Fairchild AFB remembers Lt. Col. Michael Anderson

  • Published
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
February 1, 2018 marks the 15th anniversary of the death of Lt. Col. Michael Anderson, and other crewmembers among the ill-fated mission undertook by the Space Shuttle Columbia.

STS-107 Columbia's 16-day science and research mission ended abruptly Feb. 1, 2003, when the seven-person crew perished during re-entry, 16 minutes before its scheduled landing, and in honor of Anderson, Fairchild’s elementary school was dedicated to him in January 2004.

Fairchild leadership recognizes the contributions Anderson made nationally and locally.

"Michael Anderson was one of our own as he flew KC-135s during his career," said Col. Ryan Samuelson, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander. "This was a tragic event that took the lives of seven dedicated people -- I take pause this day to remember him and the other crewmembers who perished."

Though Anderson was born in Plattsburgh, N.Y., he considered Spokane to be his hometown and actually attended MAE in 1977 when it was known as Blair Elementary School. He went on to graduate from Cheney High School, Wa., in 1977 and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics/Astronomy from University of Washington in 1981. He also earned a Masters of Science degree in Physics from Creighton University, Omaha, Neb., in 1990.

In 1986 he was selected to attend Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance AFB, Ok. Upon graduation, he was assigned to the 2nd Airborne Command and Control Squadron, Offutt AFB, Neb., as an EC-135 pilot, flying the Strategic Air Commands airborne command post code-named "Looking Glass." From January 1991 to September 1992, he served as an aircraft commander and instructor pilot in the 920th Air Refueling Squadron, Wurtsmith AFB, Mi. From September 1992 to February 1995 he was assigned as an instructor pilot and tactics officer in the 380th Air Refueling Wing, Plattsburgh AFB, N.Y.

Anderson was selected by NASA in December 1994. He reported to the Johnson Space Center in March 1995. He completed a year of training and evaluation, and was qualified for flight crew assignment as a mission specialist. He was initially assigned technical duties in the flight support branch of the astronaut office. He flew on STS-89 and STS-107, logging over 593 hours in space. He also logged more than 3,000 hours in various models of the KC-135 Stratotanker and the T-38A aircraft.

His special honors included:
- Distinguished graduate USAF Communication Electronics Officers course
- Recipient of the Armed Forces Communication Electronics Associations Academic Excellence
Award 1983
- USAF Undergraduate Pilot Training Academic Achievement Award for Class 87, 2008
- Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster
- Meritorious Service Medal
- Defense Superior Service Medal

Anderson was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, the NASA Space Flight Medal, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal and the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.