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Major Cooper Gets His Wings

May 29, 1963 - The Air Force presented pilot-astronaut wings today to Major Gordon Cooper for his 22-orbit flight around the earth. General Curtis LeMay, Air Force Chief of Staff, presided at the Pentagon ceremony and told the smiling 36-year-old major that “we are very happy to see you in uniform again and back in the Pentagon so that we can add our congratulations” to the public acclaim. Major Cooper, like other military men in the astronaut program, customarily wears civilian clothes but was in his Air Force uniform for today’s ceremony. James E. Webb, director of NASA, was present at the award of the decoration to Major Cooper. The astronaut, adhering to his usual terse style of public speaking, thanked the Air Force and said: “It is indeed an honor to be able to put on my uniform and be here to receive these wings.” General LeMay turned over to Mrs. Cooper the job of pinning the emblem on her husband’s blue uniform with the rows of service ribbons he already wears.


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