Columbia Astronaut Michael Anderson Buried At
Arlington National Cemetery
The little girls flinched when they heard the
sound of gunfire shatter the reverent silence at Arlington National
Cemetery. One hugged her teddy bear. Both, along with friends and
family, each laid a single rose on the coffin of STS-107 Mission
Specialist Michael P. Anderson.
Neighbors For Eternity
Just a few steps away from the freshly dug grave, the solemn
ceremony and the grieving family, lies the grave of Dick Scobee,
commander of the shuttle Challenger, which exploded 17 years
About 100 mourners endured cold temperatures and blustery winds
at the hilltop grave site, where Anderson, 43, was given final,
full military honors.
"I'm Just Going On Higher"
An Air Force lieutenant colonel and pilot, he had tried to
prepare those close to him for this moment.
"If this thing doesn't come out right, don't worry about me; I'm
just going on higher," Anderson is said to have told his minister
just before leaving on his second and final visit to space aboard
And before blasting off on his second and final
space flight, he tried to warn Kaycee, 9, and Sydney, 13, of "all
the things that could happen," mother-in-law Mabel Hawkins told
The Columbian newspaper of Vancouver, Wash.
Anderson had craved his NASA job since he was a boy in Spokane
(WA). He attended the University of Washington and Creighton
University and pilot training in the Air Force.
In 1994, NASA chose Anderson to train as one of its few
African-American astronauts. He had become an instructor pilot and
tactics officer in the 380 Refueling Wing at Plattsburgh Air Force
He visited the Mir space station in 1998 and afterward declared
to his wife, Sandra: "I'm a lifer. I want to go back."
Mourners wiped away tears as they watched Air Force and NASA
officials carry out their official burial duties.
A KC-135 Stratotanker - refueling boom extended - overflew the
site in a tribute to Anderson, the same model he piloted as an
instructor before taking his NASA assignment in 1995.
Air Force Secretary James G. Roche and NASA Administrator Sean
O'Keefe presented Anderson's widow, Sandra, with the Defense
Distinguished Service and the NASA Space Flight medals.
A seven-member firing party rendered a "volley of three" shots
in tribute, followed by the sounding of "Taps." The little girls
shied away for a moment, then resumed mourning their lost