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Howard Benedict

Reporter, Associated Press

Howard Benedict, a former Associated Press aerospace writer, served as the executive director of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation for 14 years, an organization of more than 30 former astronauts which raises money for college science and engineering students. He retired from the foundation’s staff in 2004 but continued to serve on its board of directors until he passed in 2005. Through 2002 the foundation had awarded more than $1.5 million in scholarships. It is located in the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in Titusville, Fla., just outside a gate to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Before joining the foundation in 1990, Benedict was senior aerospace writer for The Associated Press for 31 of the 37 years he worked for the wire service. He covered more than 2,000 missile and rocket launches and wrote the main story on the first 65 U.S. human space flights – from Alan Shepard’s pioneering flight in 1961 to the 34th space shuttle mission in 1990. He has received numerous awards for his writing, including two as the top AP writer of the year, in 1969 for his coverage of the Apollo moon missions and in 1986 for his reports on the space shuttle Challenger explosion. He twice received the National Space Club’s Media Award, in 1972 and 1990, and he has received 12 awards from the Aviation/Space Writers Association.

While with the AP Benedict spent two years as a White House correspondent, from 1975-77 during the presidency of Gerald Ford. This was during a lull in the space program.

Benedict has written three books about space: “NASA: A Quarter Century of Space Achievement,” published in 1984; “NASA, The Journey Continues,” in 1990, and “At Home in Space,” in 1995. He was co-author, with astronauts Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton, and NBC’s Jay Barbree, of the 1994 best-seller, “Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America’s Race to the Moon.” The book spent 11 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list, reaching as high as No. 3. The book was made into a four-hour documentary by TBS.

Benedict was born April 23, 1928, in Sioux City, Iowa, and earned his journalism wings working with the Sioux City Journal as an intern during his high school and college years. After high school, he served in the U.S. Army for two years, 1946-48, and during part of that period he wrote for the base newspaper in Camp Lee, Va. In 1949, he enrolled in the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and worked on the school newspaper. When the Korean War started in June 1950, Benedict was recalled into the Army as a reservist. Because of his newspaper background he was assigned to the military newspaper, Stars & Stripes, based in Tokyo, Japan.

He was assigned to cover the headquarters of General Douglas MacArthur until MacArthur was relieved by President Harry Truman in May, 1951. Then he was assigned as a Stars & Stripes war correspondent, writing about the Korean war and then covering the Panmunjam peace talks that eventually led to a truce. With the peace talks underway, Benedict and other reservists were released, and in January, 1952, he returned to Norhwestern, which he left a year later to join The Associated Press – with assignments in Salt Lake City and New York City before being named Cape Canaveral correspondent in 1959.