Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Telephone Conversation With Gus Grissom and John Young Following the Orbital Flight of Gemini 3.

March 23, 1965

THE PRESIDENT. Gus? This is Lyndon Johnson. How are you? We have all been following every moment of your flight today since the lift-off this morning, and I wish I could have been there to meet you as I was when John Glenn took his.

I know both of you fellows are mighty happy and the entire Nation is happy, too. I know that I speak for the rest of this country when I tell you that we are very proud of you and that we are very grateful for your safe return.

Your mission, Gus, confirms once again the vital role that man has to play in space exploration, and particularly in the peaceful use of the frontier of space.

I am sure you would be the first to say that on this flight, as well as on our other manned flights in space, there were heroes on the ground as well as in space, and the record made by men like Jim Webb, Dr. Dryden, and Dr. Seamans, as well as all of those at the Cape--Cape Kennedy--and around the world, is a very proud record under Project Mercury and now on Project Gemini. And to all of those who have helped make our space flights safe and successful, I want to, through you and through others that are listening, say: Well done.

I remember, Major, some very anxious moments you had and we all lived through with you on the Liberty Bell. Today apparently the Molly Brown was as unsinkable as her namesake and we are all mighty happy about it.

I know your work still goes on. As soon as you have completed your briefings there that you must go through and you get a little rest, I hope you will come to Washington on Friday if at all possible. We'll be looking forward to seeing you then and we'll try to extend the welcome of all Americans to you.

Our prayers have been with you and are with you and your families. You have upheld a very fine tradition and I want you to know again how proud we are of you, for your dedication, for your devotion.

America, as you know, and as every citizen should know, has no purpose in space whatever except peace, and your personal contributions to this program will never be forgotten. We shall continue on our steady course in our further explorations and we will always remember this great day for you and John Young.

After we get through talking, if I could I would like to say a word to John. Now, you want to cut in, Gus?

GUS GRISSOM. John is right here beside me. We had a very thrilling and wonderful flight today. I want you to speak with John.

JOHN YOUNG. Hello, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. John, glad to hear you. How are you feeling?

JOHN YOUNG. Just fine, sir. It was a wonderful ride.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I'm glad to have you back home.

JOHN YOUNG. Boy! Only thing wrong with it, it didn't last long enough.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we'll try to work that out for you in the days ahead.

JOHN YOUNG. Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. I'm looking forward to seeing you Friday. Can you make it?

JOHN YOUNG. Yes, sir, we'll be there.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I salute both of you and all the folks that work with you. Please know you have the Nation's admiration and gratitude.

JOHN YOUNG. It's been our pleasure, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you, John. Goodbye, Gus. So long.

Note: The President spoke at 3:45 p.m. by radiotelephone from his office at the White House to Maj. Virgil I. (Gus) Grissom and Lt. Comdr. John W. Young aboard the aircraft carrier Intrepid in the Atlantic. Early in his remarks he referred to a meeting with John Glenn at Grand Turk Island in February 1962, when, as Vice President, he accompanied Colonel Glenn back to the United States after the astronaut's orbital flight. He later referred to James E. Webb, Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Dr. Hugh L. Dryden, Deputy Administrator, and Dr. R. C. Seamans, Jr., Associate Administrator.

In the fourth paragraph the President referred to Major Grissom's suborbital flight in July 1961 when the spacecraft, nicknamed Liberty Bell, was lost shortly after landing in the Atlantic. The space capsule was flooded and sank and Major Grissom, after swimming a short distance in his pressure suit, was picked up by a helicopter.

See also Item 121.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Telephone Conversation With Gus Grissom and John Young Following the Orbital Flight of Gemini 3. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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