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Lyndon B. Johnson: Remarks at a Ceremony Honoring the Apollo 7 Astronauts and Former NASA Administrator James E. Webb.
Lyndon
Lyndon B. Johnson
574 - Remarks at a Ceremony Honoring the Apollo 7 Astronauts and Former NASA Administrator James E. Webb.
November 2, 1968
Public Papers of the Presidents
Lyndon B. Johnson<br>1968-69: Book II
Lyndon B. Johnson
1968-69: Book II
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GOOD MORNING, ladies and gentlemen. We are delighted to have you here on this eventful occasion.
Captain Schirra, Colonel Eisele, Mr. Cunningham, Jim Webb, Dr. Paine:

This morning we are celebrating a beginning--a beginning of what we think is great promise. It is the opening of a new era in the history of manned space flight. We are ready to take that first great step out into the solar system and onto the surface of the nearest of the many mysterious worlds that surround us in space.

Captain Schirra, Colonel Eisele, and Mr. Cunningham, your flight in the new Apollo spacecraft was one of the most successful space missions that has ever been undertaken by this country or by any other country. We just don't see how you could have done any better. I am told that you accomplished as many mission objectives--56 of them--in this one flight as were accomplished in the first five manned flights of the Gemini spacecraft.

You logged the most man-hours ever in a single flight mission--more than 780 hours. This, incidentally, is more man-hours than have been logged in all the Soviet manned flights to date. They still lead us only in woman hours in space.

For nearly 11 days, much longer than is required to go to the moon and back, you operated this complex, new spacecraft without a failure in any major system.

In short, you proved beyond doubt that you were flying the world's most advanced and most versatile manned space vehicle.

I want to pay tribute here, too, to our private enterprise system and the industry that made that possible, as well as the scientists who provided that great leadership.

You proved that the United States today leads in space accomplishments.

This is not important as either a game or a contest. But it is important because the United States of America must be first in technology if it is to continue its position in the world. And I believe today, as I did when we had our original hearings that created the Space Administration, that the United States must be first.

So this morning we have asked you three gentlemen to come here, first to welcome you back, next to present to each of you NASA's Exceptional Service Medal.

Captain Schirra, you have received so many awards already that I am afraid I am going to have to ask you to settle for just a cluster on your medal.

I understand you have been made an honorary member of the American Federation of Musicians for your harmonica rendition of "Jingle Bells."
Dr. Paine will now read the citations.

[Dr. Thomas O. Paine, Acting Administrator of NASA, read the three citations, the texts of which follow.]

THE NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION AWARDS TO R. WALTER CUNNINGHAM THE NASA EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE MEDAL

For outstanding contributions to space flight and engineering as Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo 7. During the eleven days of the first manned flight test of the Apollo spacecraft, the most complex system ever flown, he participated in maneuvers to demonstrate a CSM rescue type of rendezvous with the separated S--IVB, completed eight successful maneuvering tests of the service module propulsion engine, and evaluated the performance of all spacecraft systems. His high professional skill led to the successful completion of all planned flight tests, significantly advancing the nation's capabilities in space.

Signed and sealed at Washington, D.C.
this first day of November
Nineteen Hundred and Sixty-Eight
T. O. PAINE
Acting Administrator

THE NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION AWARDS TO DONN F. EISELE THE NASA EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE MEDAL

For outstanding contributions to space flight and engineering as Command Module Pilot of Apollo 7. During the eleven days of the first manned flight test of the Apollo spacecraft, the most complex system ever flown, he participated in maneuvers to demonstrate a CSM rescue type of rendezvous with the separated S-IVB, completed eight successful maneuvering tests of the service module propulsion engine, and evaluated the performance of all spacecraft systems. His high professional skill led to the successful completion of all planned flight tests, significantly advancing the nation's capabilities in space.
Signed and sealed at Washington, D.C.
this first day of November
Nineteen Hundred and Sixty-Eight
T. O. PAINE
Acting Administrator

THE NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION AWARDS TO WALTER M. SCHIRRA, JR. THE NASA EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE MEDAL

For outstanding contributions to space flight and engineering and for his leadership as Commander of Apollo 7. During the eleven days of the first manned flight test of the Apollo spacecraft, the most complex system ever flown, he participated in maneuvers to demonstrate a CSM rescue type of rendezvous with the separated S-IVB, completed eight successful maneuvering tests of the service module propulsion engine, and evaluated the performance of all spacecraft systems. His high professional skill led to the successful completion of all planned flight tests, significantly advancing the nation's capabilities in space.
Signed and sealed at Washington, D.C.
this first day of November
Nineteen Hundred and Sixty-Eight
T. O. PAINE
Acting Administrator

[Following the reading of the three citations, Captain Schirra spoke briefly. The President then resumed speaking.]

We have one other medal to present this morning.

It is NASA's Distinguished Service Medal. And it is to be presented to NASA's most distinguished alumnus--James Webb.

After working with NASA and its astronauts for more than a decade now, I am running out of words to say about the accomplishments and progress that this organization has made.

So I think I am going to be very brief and just say to Jim Webb: You are the best.

I will read the citation for the benefit of those of you who are here, and at least Patsy--Mrs. Webb. Jim doesn't seem to be interested in any praise from any of us, just as long as we will support NASA.

[The President read the citation, the text of which follows.]

THE NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION AWARDS TO JAMES E. WEBB THE NASA DISTINGUISHED SERVICE MEDAL

For outstanding leadership of America's space program from 1961 to 1968 as Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Once referred to as "the outstanding Administrator in Government," he provided the clear vision, driving energy and management skill which, in the space of seven years, moved the United States forward to a position of leadership in space and aeronautics. Understanding the broad role of the space program, he successfully forged the capabilities of American academic, industrial, and governmental institutions into a mighty partnership, and in the process greatly strengthened each. He has been unsurpassed in his understanding of and dedication to the strong and proper functioning of our system of government, and to the advancement of science, technology, and public administration as the cornerstones on which the success of our national enterprises must be built. More than any other individual, he deserves credit for the great achievements of the United States in the first decade of space and for helping man reach outward toward the stars.
Signed and sealed at Washington, D.C.
this first day of November
Nineteen Hundred and Sixty-Eight
THOMAS O. PAINE
Acting Administrator
HOME R E. NEWELL
Associate Administrator

I want to add just this one word. President Kennedy asked me as Chairman of the Space Council and Vice President to undertake a search and try to secure the best man available in this country to bring the academic community, the industrial community, the political community, including the Congress and the executive department, together. As I recall it, I interviewed some 19 men from coast to coast--great industrialists, leading educators, good administrators, and so forth.

I finally concluded that Mr. Webb should be the man to head this venture. He had been Director of the Budget. He had been Under Secretary of State. He had had a career in Government that is unequalled and unexcelled.

I asked him to come to the Capital and tendered him the job. He promptly declined and told me the many reasons why he could not take it. I went ahead and spent several days interviewing the other 18. And I kept coming back to Jim Webb every time.

So finally I got on the phone and asked him to come back; I told him the problems that his country faced, that his Government faced, and that I thought he had as much obligation to put on the uniform and become head of NASA as he did to put on the uniform when he enlisted in the Marines.

So he took this assignment and he put together one of the finest teams that has ever been assembled. He put together a team in the Congress and a team in the executive department.

Both Presidents have supported him all the way through. The Congress has generally supported all of his requests. They have not given him what he should have had in appropriations. We will have to try to remedy that as time goes on. But as I look back, I have never had a prouder moment than the day I said to President Kennedy over the telephone, "I think I found the man you want."

He said, "Who is he?" I said, "Jim Webb." He said, "Can you bring him to the White House now?" And I said, "Yes, sir."

In 10 minutes we were there and President Kennedy called the press in and announced Mr. Webb's appointment.

So this is kind of a going-away for Jim Webb. We are so proud of you, but we are so sorry to see you leave.

Thank you very much.


Note: The President spoke at 10:30 a.m. in the hangar at the LBJ Ranch, Johnson City, Texas. In his opening words he referred to the astronauts, Capt. Walter M. Schirra, Jr., USN, Lt. Col. Donn F. Eisele, USAF, and R. Walter Cunningham, to James E. Webb, former National Aeronautics and Space Administrator, and to Dr. Thomas O. Paine, Acting Administrator of NASA.

Following the President's remarks, Mr. Webb addressed the group. His remarks are printed, along with those of Captain Schirra, in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 4, pp. 1569, 1570).


Citation: Lyndon B. Johnson: "Remarks at a Ceremony Honoring the Apollo 7 Astronauts and Former NASA Administrator James E. Webb.," November 2, 1968. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=29220.
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