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Hawaii born Ellison S. Onizuka: First Asian American and the First Person of Japanese Ancestry to Reach Space

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This write up of Ellison S. Onizuka comes from the astronauts memorial foundation. The AMF’s mission is to honor fallen astronauts. VIA AMF

Born June 24, 1946 in Kealakekua, Kona, Hawaii. Ellison S. Onizuka received both a bachelor of science degree and a master of science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado. Onizuka and his wife, Lorna Leike Onizuka, have two children, Janelle and Darien.

Lieutenant Colonel Onizuka, an Air Force test pilot, received the Air Force Commendation Medal, Air force Meritorious Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.

After he was chosen to be an astronaut, he flew on Discovery 51-C, which was the first shuttle mission flown exclusively for the Department of Defense. His duties included deploying a Department of Defense satellite using the shuttle’s 50-foot remote arm.

Onizuka was asssigned as a mission specialist on space shuttle Challenger STS 51-L, which broke apart one minute and 13 seconds after its launch.

Ellison S. Onizuka made the ultimate sacrifice and lost his life in service to the nation and the space program on January 28, 1986 at 39 years of age.

Read more!


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