May 16, 2013
JFK WELCOMED GORDON COOPER BACK TO EARTH 50 YEARS AGO TODAY
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Project Mercury concluded its operations 50 years ago today, May 16, 1963, with the successful splashdown of Gordon Cooper's FAITH 7* into the Pacific Ocean.
The President placed a phone call to Cooper,who was aboard the aircraft carrier USS KEARSARGE** almost immediately upon his return.
*Each Mercury astronaut named his own space capsule. According to Gordon Cooper, he chose FAITH 7 to reflect "faith in the launch team, faith in the hardware, faith in myself and my faith in God."
Gordon Cooper and Faith 7
On board USS Kearsarge
May 16, 1963
**USS Kearsarge (1945-1970) was a long hulled Essex-class Aircraft Carrier which earned 2 battle stars in KOREA and 3 in VIETNAM. She was decommissioned in 1970.
Mercury 9 Recovery Mission
May 15, 1963
At 8:15 p.m. Washington time, President Kennedy spoke to the Nation on radio and television following the successful mission.
"I have just talked to Major Cooper in the Pacific, and Mrs. Cooper in Houston, Texas. We are proud of both of them and, indeed, we take the greatest satisfaction as Americans in this extraordinary feat which has pushed the experience of man a good deal further in many ways than it has been.
We are proud of Major Cooper and we are proud of all those thousands of Americans who worked with him to make this flight possible. And indeed, in a sense all Americans were on this flight because all of them have sustained this program in good times and in bad, and it represents a great achievement for our society and a great achievement for free men and women.
Peace has her victories as well as war and this was one of the victories for the human spirit today."
The President's remarks were made in the FISH ROOM*** at the White House.
***The Fish Room was the location of the President's office from 1902-1909, but with the West Wing expansion, it became the Roosevelt Room and was used as a waiting area.
FDR called it the Fish Room because he kept an aquarium and fishing momentos there. The room honors both Roosevelts and today is used for staff meetings.
In the photograph below, you can see a portrait of TR as a Rough Rider above the fireplace and just to the right of the door leading to the Oval Office, a portrait of FDR.
The Roosevelt Room
in the Clinton Administration
You Tube Video