Walt Cunningham Obituary, Death – Walt, we hope you make it! We are saddened to report that Apollo astronaut Walt Cunningham passed away last night, and it is with a heavy heart that we are passing along the news of his passing to others. In 2015, Walt and his wife Dot paid a visit to the National Space Centre, and it was both an honor and a privilege for me to give them both a tour of the facility. We was able to do so because we was well-versed in its history.
It was one of the few times that I had the opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with an Apollo astronaut, and while we were talking, I was struck by how approachable and friendly he was. During that conversation, I was impressed by how open he was to answering questions. When he was looking at one of the artifacts that we had on display, he asked, “Are you certain that’s genuine?” I was stopped in my tracks for a brief period of time, but it was only for a microsecond.
Walt served as a member of the crew for the Apollo 7 mission, which was an essential test to validate the Apollo spacecraft after the disastrous fire that took place during the Apollo 1 mission. Along with his fellow crewmates Wally Schirra and Donn Eisele, he possessed a great deal of intestinal fortitude in order to carry out what they did. Despite this, we believe that the fact that the Apollo 7 mission has been largely overlooked existing in the shadow of other, more well-known missions such as Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 has had a negative impact on Walt.
While we were having this conversation, he issued a challenge to me by stating that he was willing to wager that we did not have anything on display that was connected to his mission. In point of fact, he said this while we were having the conversation. But we did! In addition to this, it gave the impression that he was genuinely pleased to learn that he would be able to view an artifact and display that was dedicated to him and his work.
This was supported by the fact that he expressed genuine happiness upon learning of these things. We took him to the Soyuz Lounge so he could take a look at his own NASA jacket, which is on display there at the moment. While he was inspecting the jacket, he noticed that it had a patch that said “Apollo 7,” so he turned to me and inquired as to whether or not the patch was authentic. He explained that the jacket had been made before the accident that occurred with Apollo 1, which meant that it should not have an Apollo 7 patch on it because that mission had not even been planned at the time that the jacket had been made.