The Astronaut: Apollo 13 pilot speaks at fundraiser

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, February 24, 2016

gift: Scouts presented Fred Haise with a signed portrait in appreciation for his appearance at their fundraiser.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

gift: Scouts presented Fred Haise with a signed portrait in appreciation for his appearance at their fundraiser.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

Friday, after a microphone malfunction, Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise began his speech with, “Picayune, we have a problem.”
Haise was in Picayune to support local Boy Scouts of America Troop 2 and Adventure Crew 2. Both groups are chartered by the First United Methodist Church of Picayune. The adventure crew has male and female members.
The youth are raising money to take a trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, troop secretary Vanessa Kingrey said.
“The scouts participate in various treks and courses and the adults participate in leadership training,” she said. “The training makes us stronger. Scouting is youth led and attending Philmont makes them better instructors to the boys.”
To raise money for their trips, scouts also host car washes and sell popcorn, Vanessa Kingrey said. Friday’s event, A Night with Fred Haise, was the first of its kind for Troop 2.
A former Eagle Scout, Haise volunteered to speak at Friday’s event.
“It’s a great program for children,” Haise said. “They work together, learn skills and not just merit badges, but also participate in field activities and do a little cooking.”
Scoutmaster Keith Kingrey said the Philmont experience is a high adventure program designed to push participants to their limitations.
“They are taken out of their normal South Mississippi setting and placed in the rugged back country,” he said. “The purpose of scouting is to instill character and value in the boys through personal challenges and growth. “
William Smith, 14, is a scout quartermaster and said the friendship and leadership has played a major role in his life.
Senior patrol leader, 15-year-old Chris Smith, said one of his main roles is to lead the entire group.
“I’m showing the good leadership to others so they can be leaders when they grow up,” he said. “I’ve learned so many things and all of them can be used throughout your life.”
Scouting helps boys achieve their dream, Keith Kingrey said.
“It’s their happy place, where they can come and escape the troubles they may have outside of scouting,” he said. “Scouting is the largest peace movement in the entire world.”
All three of Matthew Olive’s children are involved in scouting and he is a member of the troop’s leadership.
“Once an Eagle Scout, always an Eagle Scout,” Olive said. “I like the values such as responsibility, teamwork and leadership that scouting instills.”
During his presentation, Haise spoke about his experience on the Apollo 13 mission, which took place in 1970.
The crew was headed to the moon when one of the oxygen tanks exploded, he said.
Upon further examination of the gauges, the astronauts realized the second oxygen tank was also losing air, Haise said. Apollo 13 only circled the moon before having to head back to Earth.
“I was very disappointed,” he said. “I had a sick feeling and was afraid were going to be the first ones to not make our goals. But all that work and training was received in the right way. It was a great accomplishment of teamwork and that miracles can happen.”
Haise showed the audience 13 minutes of footage from the mission that included a shot of him taking the first ever space selfie, he said.
The soon to be 83-year-old astronaut said he feels very fortunate to have those opportunities in his life. Along with being an astronaut, Haise also worked as a research pilot for NASA.
Haise credited his own scouting years for giving him the necessary tools to pursue his careers.
“There were no astronauts when I was growing up,” he said. “In college, there was a space program, which I stumbled into. The keystone for kids is to figure out the talent you’ve been blessed with and figure out how that talent best matches the profession. You will then enjoy your job and career when you go to work because you will spend a third of your life on the job.”

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