25,000 Heroes

Mike Leinbach and I are excited to be kicking off this new project in conjunction with our forthcoming book, Bringing Columbia Home.

Our research for the book over the past year and a half has involved talking to more than 100 participants in the recovery and reconstruction of Columbia. We have interviewed people from all walks of life – from the former Administrator of NASA (Sean O’Keefe), to more than a dozen astronauts, to employees of the FBI, FEMA, US and Texas Forest Services, to people like Marie “Little Granny” Nelson, a volunteer who prepared and served food for the search crews in Hemphill, Texas in February 2003.

We’re amazed at how the loss and recovery of Columbia deeply touched and changed the lives of every one of the 25,000 people involved in the effort. It was an event of critical national importance. The success of the effort required extraordinary personal compassion, commitment, and courage.

The loss of Columbia and her crew was an international tragedy. Equally tragic is that so many people do not know or remember the amazing work done by everyday Americans to recover Columbia. Their courage and sacrifices enabled NASA to get the space shuttle fleet flying again and continue its mission.

The story of Columbia‘s recovery and reconstruction is simply too big to fit into one book. That’s why we started this blog. We hope to shine a light on the incredible events of the first half of 2003, when Americans of all backgrounds united to perform the largest land search and recovery operation in our history.

Please let us know if you or one of your friends or family took part in the recovery and reconstruction. We look forward to hearing from you!

Author: Jonathan Ward

Jonathan Ward is an author of books on the history of American manned spaceflight. He also serves as an adjunct executive coach at the Center for Creative Leadership.

2 thoughts on “25,000 Heroes”

  1. Guys,

    I was the MOD rep to the Orbiter project during this time. Although I never got out to the fields of thickets searching for debris, I was deeply involved in the investigation and reconstruction. Please let me know if there is any way I could help with your project.


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