Gus Grissom


Gus Grissom : biography

April 3, 1926 – January 27, 1967


  • Bunker Hill Air Force Base in Peru, Indiana, was renamed on May 12, 1968, to Grissom Air Force Base. In 1994 it was again renamed to Grissom Air Reserve Base following the USAF’s realignment program.
  • Grissom Dining Facility, Misawa Air Base, Japan.
  • Grissom was the "Class Exemplar" of the United States Air Force Academy class of 2007.
  • Grissom Hall at the former Chanute Air Force Base, Rantoul, Illinois, where Minuteman missile maintenance training was conducted.
  • Grissom Avenue at the former Mather Air Force Base, now known as Sacramento Mather Airport, Rancho Cordova, California, is one of a number of streets at the former base named after Mercury, Gemini and Apollo program astronauts.


  • Grissom Hall at Purdue University, his alma mater, was the home of the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics for several decades. It is currently home of the Purdue department of Industrial Engineering.
  • Grissom Hall, Florida Institute of Technology.
  • Grissom Hall, State University of New York at Fredonia.
  • Virgil I. Grissom High School, Huntsville, Alabama. (Huntsville also has schools named for Roger Chaffee, Ed White, and the lost space shuttles: Roger B. Chaffee Elementary School, Ed White Middle School, Challenger Middle School, and Columbia High School)
  • Virgil I. Grissom Middle School, Mishawaka, Indiana.
  • Virgil I. Grissom Middle School, Tinley Park, Illinois.
  • Virgil I. Grissom Middle School, Sterling Heights, Michigan.
  • Virgil I. Grissom Junior High School 226, South Ozone Park, Queens, New York City, New York.
  • Virgil I. Grissom Elementary School, Houston.
  • Virgil Grissom Elementary School, Old Bridge, New Jersey. (This school was named for Grissom several years before his death.)
  • Virgil I. Grissom Elementary School in the Hegewisch community of Chicago.
  • Grissom Elementary School, Gary, Indiana.
  • Virgil Grissom Elementary School, Princeton, Iowa.
  • Grissom Elementary School, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
  • Virgil I. Grissom School No. 7, Rochester, New York.
  • V.I. Grissom Elementary School, at the closed Clark Air Base, Philippines.
  • Grissom Elementary School, Muncie, Indiana.

Korean War

Grissom re-enlisted in the military after his graduation from Purdue, this time in the newly formed United States Air Force. He was accepted into the air cadet basic training program at Randolph Air Force Base in Universal City, Texas. Upon completion of the program, he was assigned to Williams Air Force Base in Mesa, Arizona.Boomhower, p. 57 In March 1951 Grissom received his pilot wings and commission as a second lieutenant.Boomhower, p. 58 Grissom’s wife remained in Indiana and while he was away his first child, Scott, was born. After his birth they joined Grissom at his base in Arizona.Boomhower, p. 59 The family remained there only briefly and in December 1951 they moved to Presque Isle, Maine where Grissom was assigned to Presque Isle Air Force Base and became a member of the 75th Fighter Interceptor Squadron.Boomhower, p. 60

With the ongoing Korean War, Grissom’s squadron was dispatched to the war zone in February 1952. There he flew as an F-86 Sabre replacement pilot and was reassigned to the 334th Fighter Squadron of the 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing stationed at Kimpo Air Base.Boomhower, p. 63 Grissom flew 100 combat missions during his time in the war, serving as a wingman protecting the lead fighters. The position was not one that put him in a position to attack the enemy and he did not shoot down any planes while he was in service. He did personally drive off Korean air raids on multiple occasions as their MiGs would often flee at the first sign of superior American aircraft. On March 11, 1952, Grissom was promoted to First Lieutenant and was cited for his "superlative airmanship".Grissom, p. 67

Grissom requested to remain in Korea to fly another 25 flights, but his request was denied. He was given the option of which base he would like to be stationed at in the United States and he requested the Bryan AFB in Bryan, Texas. There he served as a flight instructor, and was joined by his wife and son. His second child was born in Bryan in 1953.Boomhower, p. 68 During a training exercise with a cadet, a trainee pilot caused a flap to break off the plane, causing it to spin out of control. Grissom climbed from the rear seat of the small craft to take over the controls and safely land the jet.Boomhower, p. 69

In August 1955, Grissom was reassigned to the Air Force Institute of Technology located in Dayton, Ohio. There he earned a bachelors degree in aero mechanics after completing the year-long course.Boomhower, p. 71 In October 1956, he entered test pilot school at Edwards Air Force Base, California and returned to Wright-Patterson in May 1957 as a test pilot assigned to the fighter branch.