John Leonard  Swigert
CAHS Honored in 1988
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Click to view the SWIGERT_JOHN_LEONARD albumJohn Leonard "Jack" Swigert was born on August 30, 1931 and is a Denver, Colorado native. He attended elementary schools and Regis High School in Denver, and graduated from East High School. While still in high school, he started his flying-lessons studies at Combs Field at 34th and Dahlia in Denver. He was licensed at the age of 16.

Jack attended the University of Colorado where he played football for Dal Ward. He graduated in 1953 with a degree in mechanical engineering and a Reserve Officers Training Corp (ROTC) Commission in the Air Force. In later years he received an MA degree in Engineering from Rensselear Polytechnic Institute in New York and a second MA degree in Business Administration from the University of Hartford.

He entered the Air Force after his graduation from the University of Colorado, graduated from the Air Force flight-training program and served six year as an Air Force pilot. After leaving the Air Force in 1958, he was employed as a test pilot for Pratt & Whitney and later for North American Aviation. In the latter position, he worked on a "paraglider" project, which, had it been adopted for use, would have enabled astronauts to land on hard ground, rather than ocean, surfaces.

Jack rejoined the Air Force during the Korean War and flew combat missions. One unscheduled event was a crash landing during a storm, when he ran into a road grader someone left on a runway. The plane burned, but he escaped with no injuries.

Jack is internationally known for his flight as a NASA astronaut on the Apollo 13 flight to the moon in April 1970. He was the command module pilot for this mission that was to be a moon landing flight. As is now well known an oxygen tank explosion caused the landing to be aborted, replaced by an improvised spine-tingling drama that allowed for a safe ocean recovery of the crew. The feats of the crew, Jack, James Lowell, and Fred Haise, were later documented in the block-buster successful movie, Apollo 13.

After leaving NASA, Jack entered the 1978 primary election for the US Senate running against William Armstrong. Although he lost this primary election to Senator Armstrong, the two became friends. Later despite the onset of cancer, he ran successfully for the United States House of Representatives. Shortly after the election, on December 28, 1982, Jack died, with Senator Armstrong at his side.

In 1996 the Colorado State legislature approved legislation that selected Jack as the second of two Coloradans to be honored by a statute placed in the national capitol building on Washington, D.C. His statue as a NASA astronaut can be seen at Denver International Airport (DIA) on Concourse B.