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50 Years Ago, Accolades for Apollo 7 Astronauts

Following their nearly flawless mission, Apollo 7 astronauts Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Donn F. Eisele, and R. Walter Cunningham received many accolades for their historic accomplishment. President Lyndon B. Johnson, a long-time supporter of the nation’s space program, invited the crew to the LBJ Ranch in Johnson City, Texas, on November 3, 1968, for a news conference and to present them with Exceptional Service Medals for their successful space flight. The President said in praising the astronauts, “you operated this complex new spacecraft without a failure” proving that “you were flying the world’s most advanced and most versatile manned space vehicle.” He added, “You proved that the United States today leads in space accomplishments.”  Johnson also presented former NASA Administrator James E. Webb with a Distinguished Service Medal for his many years of leadership at the space agency. NASA Acting Administrator Thomas O. Paine participated in the ceremony by reading the award citations.

Left: Former NASA Administrator James Webb speaking at the Apollo 7 event at the LBJ Ranch. Seated at far left
are NASA Acting Administrator Thomas Paine and President Lyndon Johnson, and seated at right are Apollo 7
astronauts Walter Cunningham, Donn Eisele and Walter Schirra. Right: After the formal ceremony, President Johnson
(second from left) chatting with Apollo 7 astronauts Schirra, Eisele and Cunningham.

Four days later, the Apollo 7 astronauts became television celebrities when they appeared in prime time on The Bob Hope Show. The comedian, a big fan of the space program, filmed this episode of his weekly television variety show in the auditorium of the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC), now the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Hope saluted the astronauts during a skit that included actress Barbara Eden, star of the television series I Dream of Jeannie that featured fictional astronauts. Paul Haney, MSC Director of Public Affairs and the “Voice of Mission Control,” also participated in the skit.

Left: A scence from the taping of The Bob Hope Show at the MSC: (left to right) Director of Public Affairs Paul Haney,
Apollo 7 astronauts Walter Schirra, Walter Cunningham and Donn Eisele, Bob Hope, and Barbara Eden. Right: Apollo 7
astronauts Schirra, Cunningham, and Eisele in another scence from The Bob Hope Show.

In another show of support for the nation’s astronauts, President Johnson invited the crews of Apollo 7 and Apollo 8, the latter just days from their historic launch to the Moon, to the White House for a special event on December 9. The astronauts signed a memorial document honoring the occasion which was hung in the Treaty Room of the White House. Aviation legend Charles Lindbergh was also in attendance and signed the document.

Apollo 7 and Apollo 8 crews signing a memorial document to be hung in the
Treaty Room of the White House. The signers are (seated, left to right): astronauts
Walter Cunningham, Donn Eisele, Walter Schirra, Williams Anders, James Lovell, and
Frank Borman. Standing are Charles Lindbergh, First Lady Mrs. Johnson, President
Lyndon Johnson, former NASA Administrator James Webb and Vice President
Hubert Humphrey.



Last Updated
May 09, 2024