The open portion of our May Stated Meeting (May 7th) was a presentation by by very special guest – the brother of our brother Gus Grissom, member of Arabia Shrine and one of the original seven United States astronauts. We honor his supreme sacrifice on this the fifty third anniversary of the United State’s first venture in to space, May 5th 1961.
Brother Virgil “Gus” Grissom was a NASA astronaut who flew twice in space and was selected to command the first Apollo manned mission. He died January 27th, 1967 with two other astronauts in a fire that erupted in his spacecraft on the launch pad.
Brother Grissom was an Indiana Mason and Texas Shriner about whom Brother Christopher Gamblin has done extensive research. Chris has arranged for Gus Grissom’s brother by birth , Lowell Grissom to make a presentation at our Gray Lodge stated meeting in May.
A Purdue Graduate with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Brother Grissom began his flying career in the Air Force and received his wings in 1951. A veteran of the Korean War, he piloted 100 combat missions before becoming a flight instructor in 1952, according to NASA. Later in his flying career, he studied aeronautical engineering at the Air Force Institute of Technology and attended test pilot school at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
As one of the first seven Mercury astronauts ever selected by NASA in April 1959, Grissom rocketed to international fame before stepping inside of a spacecraft. The job of Grissom and his fellow astronauts was to prove that humans could work safely and accurately during spaceflight.
As a Freemason, Gus Grissom was member of many Masonic organizations. His mother lodge was Mitchell Lodge No. 228 located in the town of Mitchell Indiana which is Southwest of Indianapolis. There Gus was Initiated on 10 February 1949, Passed 14 April 1949, and Raised 19 May 1949. Gus went on to gain his degrees in the York Rite at a festival in Orlando Florida on 14 Sept 1963. Later that same month he would become a 32 degree in the Scottish Rite of the Southern Jurisdiction by jointing the Orlando Valley on 25 September 1963. Other Masonic organizations Grissom joined and was a member of are: Indian River Chapter A.A.R.O.N Council, Brevard Commandery in Cocoa Florida, Bahia Temple which Gus later transferred his membership and joined Houston’s own Arabia Shrine Temple A.A.O.N.M.S., and Cape Canaveral Chapter No. 366 National Sojourners located at Patrick AFB. Gus was also a life sponsor of the Knights Templar Eye Foundation, Inc.
Gus took time for our Fraternity even when he was at the height of his manned space flight career. His advancing in degrees, and joining Masonic bodies in Florida took something of pure dedication with the busy schedules the first seven astronauts had to deal with. We are grateful for his time on this earth, and the service he performed for not only our Country, but also the Masonic Fraternity. We will always be blessed to know that he was, “One of ours.”