Virgil “Gus” Grissom was born in Mitchell, Indiana on April 3rd, 1926. The oldest of four children, he graduated from Purdue University, joined the Air Force, and went on to become one of the nation’s seven original Mercury astronauts.
Gus Grissom was the second American to go into space, the first person to travel into space twice, and also became one of the first astronauts to give his life for the space program. Early on the evening of January 27, 1967, a fire swept through the Apollo capsule during countdown tests at Cape Kennedy, killing Grissom and fellow crewmates Edward White and Roger Chaffee.
In a nationally televised funeral, Grissom was given a hero’s burial at Arlington National Cemetery. Neighbors from Mitchell, Indiana joined President Lyndon B. Johnson, members of Congress, and fellow astronauts as they paid tribute.
In 1971, The Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom State Memorial was dedicated in The Spring Mill State Park near Mitchell, Indiana.