Edward Higgins White


Edward Higgins White : biography

November 14, 1930 – January 27, 1967

White was buried with full military honors at West Point Cemetery while Grissom and Chaffee are both buried in Section 3 (GPS Coordinates: 38.873115 N, -77.072755 W) of Arlington National Cemetery.

In 1997, White was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. White was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1993 and the National Aviation Hall of Fame on July 18, 2009.

His wife Patricia remarried and continued to reside in Houston. On September 7, 1983 she committed suicide after surgery earlier in the year to remove a tumor.

Early years

White was born in San Antonio, Texas, where he attended school and became a member of the Boy Scouts of America. White’s father, Edward H. White, Sr. was a major general in the Air Force. After graduation from high school, he was accepted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where in 1952 he earned his Bachelor of Science degree and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Force.Prior to the first graduating class from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1959, a certain percentage of officers in the U.S. Air Force were drawn from West Point and from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. In any case, the vast majority of officers in the U.S. Armed Forces are educated and trained at the three kinds of R.O.T.C. programs at hundreds of other institutes and universities across the country, including Georgia Tech, Michigan, Purdue Univ., and the Univ. of California. White then chose a commission with the U.S. Air Force and attended flight school, a course that takes just over a year. Following graduation from flight school, White was assigned to the 22nd Fighter Day Squadron at Bitburg Air Base, West Germany. He spent three and a half years in West Germany flying in F-86 Sabre and F-100 Super Sabre squadrons in the defense of NATO.http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/white-eh.htmlhttp://www.cmgww.com/historic/white/about/biography.html

In 1958, White enrolled in the University of Michigan under Air Force sponsorship to study aeronautical engineering, where he earned his Master of Science degree in 1959. Following graduation, White was selected to attend the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base and was then assigned as a test pilot at the Aeronautical Systems Division at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. During his career, White would log more than 3,000 flight hours with the Air Force, including about 2,200 hours in jets, and would ultimately attain the rank of lieutenant colonel.

In 1953, White married Patricia Finegan, whom he met while at West Point. The Whites would have two children, Edward White III (born 15 September 1953) and Bonnie Lynn White (born 15 May 1956). White was a devout Methodist.Burgess, Colin and Doolan, Kate, with Vis, Bert (2003). Fallen Astronauts: Heroes Who Died Reaching for the Moon, Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-6212-4

White in the movies

White was played by Steven Ruge in the 1995 film Apollo 13 and by Chris Isaak in the 1998 miniseries From the Earth to the Moon.



Many schools have been named in honor of Lt Colonel White:

  • Edward White Elementary Career Academy in Chicago
  • Edward H. White Middle School in San Antonio, Texas
  • Ed White Elementary School in El Lago, Texas
  • Edward White Elementary School in Eldridge, Iowa
  • Ed White Memorial High School in League City, Texas
  • Edward H. White High School in Jacksonville, Florida
  • Edward H. White Elementary School in Houston, Texas.
  • Ed White Middle School in Huntsville, Alabama. Huntsville is home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and has strong community ties to the space program. At the same time, the Huntsville City Schools named Roger B. Chaffee Elementary School and Virgil I. Grissom High School for White’s fallen Apollo 1 crewmates.

Other sites

  • Edward White Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida.
  • Edward H. White II Park in Fullerton, California. Fullerton has also named parks in honor of Chaffee and Grissom.
  • Island White, an artificial island in Long Beach Harbor off Southern California.
  • Edward H. White Hall is a dormitory at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas. White Hall houses the 365th Training Squadron which train aircraft avionics troops.
  • Edward White Way, a service road at Oakland International Airport, Oakland, California.
  • Edward White Drive in Amherst, New York.
  • McDivitt-White Plaza is located outside of West Hall at the University of Michigan. West Hall formerly housed the College of Engineering and counts James McDivitt and Ed White among its alumni (McDivitt earned his B.S. and White earned his M.S. at the University of Michigan).
  • The dismantled Launch Pad 34 at Cape Canaveral bears two memorial plaques: One says, They gave their lives in service to their country in the ongoing exploration of humankind’s final frontier. Remember them not for how they died but for those ideals for which they lived. and the other, In memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice so others could reach for the stars. Ad astra per aspera, (a rough road leads to the stars). God speed to the crew of Apollo 1.
  • Edward White Guidance Library in Washington, DC. Located inside the former Western High School now renamed The Duke Ellington School of the Arts located at 35th Street and R Street, Northwest, Washington, D.C..

In space

  • The star Iota Ursae Majoris was nicknamed "Dnoces" ("Second", as in "Edward Higgins White the Second", spelled backwards).
  • White Hill, 11.2 km (7.0 mi) northwest of Columbia Memorial Station on Mars, is a part of the Apollo 1 Hills.
  • A photograph of White performing his Gemini 4 space walk is included as one of several images on the Voyager Golden Record.


  • Eight months after his death, in September 1967, a postage stamp was issued by the United States Post Office, commemorating White’s space walk, the first-ever by an American. It was the first time in USPO history that the design was actually spread over two stamps (one which featured White, the other his Gemini capsule, the two connected by a tether), which was considered befitting the "twins" aspect of the Gemini mission. White’s name did not appear on the stamps.

Physical description

  • Weight: 176 lb (80 kg)
  • Height: 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
  • Hair: Reddish Brown
  • Eyes: brown