Civil Air Patrol Volunteer Now

Colonel Guion S. Bluford

First African American In Space

Guion “Guy” Bluford was born in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania , on November 22, 1942.  His mother was a teacher and his father an engineer.  The Blufords encouraged all four of their sons to work hard and set their goals high.  Guy graduated from college and during that period, participated in and graduated from AFROTC as an officer in the USAF.  He then applied for flight school and eventually earned his wings in 1966.  He was assigned to the 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron and was sent to Vietnam .  He flew a total of 144 missions, 65 over North Vietnam . After his tour of duty in Southeast Asia, he returned to the U.S. as a flight instructor at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas . Guion decided to further his education and in 1974, earned a Doctor of Philosophy in aerospace engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology. 

NASA let it be known they were processing astronaut candidates and from a field of over 10,000 applications, Guy was selected.  He was presented his astronaut wings in August of 1979. 

Younger youth.  Needless to say, NASA wasn’t looking for anyone with a history of alcohol or drug abuse.  A DUI would easily have precluded Guy’s selection as an astronaut and likely would have ended his career as an Air Force pilot, as well, even with his distinguished air combat record. In fact, there is no place for anyone in the Air Force or NASA who chooses to abuse drugs or alcohol.  The stakes are simply too high and too important to allow anyone to take such risks.  Guy chose wisely and made smart decisions for himself—something we all need to do for ourselves every day.  Guy lives by the motto, Drug-free!  Way to be!  And that’s a good motto to live by. 

Older youth.  Imagine what it must be like to be Guy Bluford.   He had set his goals for life early on and knew full well that he should never let anything jeopardize his intentions.  He worked hard while in school, and continued to do so through college, finally earning not only his degree, but also a commission as an Air Force officer—no easy accomplishment in itself!  Completing flight school was yet another significant achievement, where he earned his wings as a fighter pilot.  No doubt he experienced his share of scary situations while flying dangerous combat missions over the contested skies of North Vietnam , and he may have been tempted to indulge in alcohol or drugs to calm his nerves.  But he chose not to do so.  Instead he persevered, he earned his doctorate degree, and he was chosen from over 10,000 to become an astronaut!  Now that’s perseverance!  Guy is a living example of the motto we should all follow: Drug-free!  Way to be!

Guy’s first mission was aboard the Challenger STS-8.  This was NASA’s first night launch and night landing for the Shuttle.  He served on three more missions during his NASA career, one on the Challenger and two on the Discovery.  Colonel Bluford retired from NASA and the Air Force in 1993.  During his career, he earned many medals, awards, and accolades.  He was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1997.  He is a great American and an outstanding role model for young Americans who want to make a difference in the world of aerospace engineering and space exploration.


This curriculum is sponsored by the Drug Demand Reduction
Program of the Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters
Maxwell AFB, Alabama

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