Blue Knights Honor Guard serve at astronauts funeral

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kari Degraffenreed
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

The Blue Knights Honor Guard from Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, provided military duty honors at Astronaut Thomas Stafford’s funeral service, April 5, 2024.

Altus AFB Honor Guard attended Stafford’s service and escorted the casket to the Stafford Air and Space Museum, named for the late astronaut. At the funeral service, the team rendered a 21 gun salute and administered a flag folding detail to present to the family before an F-16 missing man formation flew over.

“It was a beautiful service,” said Airman 1st Class Lain Baker, Altus AFB Blue Knights Honor Guardsman. “We were able to witness how much Gen. Stafford meant to so many people and it was an honor to be a part of his service.”

Stafford was born in Weatherford, Oklahoma, in 1930 and went on to graduate in the top 1% of his class at the United States Naval Academy, where he was given an option to join the still brand-new U.S. Air Force in 1952.

He went on to become a pioneer during the space race of the 1960’s, where he flew the Gemini 6 mission in 1965. Stafford also flew with the Apollo 10 team in 1969, which was the practice mission for the eventual moon landing later on that year.

“Tom was critical to the earliest successes of our nation’s space program and was instrumental in developing space as a model for international cooperation,” said Bill Nelson, NASA administrator. “He was intimately involved with the space program, sharing his thoughts and suggestions on NASA missions until the end of his life.”

Stafford had the opportunity to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, however, he made the decision before his passing to be laid to rest in his hometown of Weatherford, Oklahoma.

“Having our team selected for Lt. General Stafford’s funeral highlights our unit’s excellence and the ceremony’s significance,” said Staff Sgt. Almyr Zamudio, Altus AFB Honor Guard non-commissioned officer in charge. “His burial in Weatherford, Oklahoma, shows his love for his hometown and gives us this special opportunity to honor his legacy.”