- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 8, 2003

Air Force Lt. Col. Michael P. Anderson, the payload commander on board the Space Shuttle Columbia when it broke apart in flames last month over Texas, was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday.

As the Air Force Band played "Amazing Grace," the honor guard lifted Col. Anderson's casket off the horse-drawn caisson and carried it to the burial plot. Col. Anderson's wife, Sandra, his two young daughters and his parents followed closely behind as a crowd of family and friends watched, saluting or holding their hands over their hearts.

NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe wept as he watched Mrs. Anderson and her daughters place roses on Col. Anderson's casket.

Many wiped tears from their eyes as they remembered Col. Anderson as a man of faith who was committed to his relationship with God and his family more than to his career.

Col. Anderson's friend, Lt. Col. Derek Green, said Col. Anderson "gave new meaning to the phrase, 'If I could be like Mike.' "

"His accomplishments as a Christian, as a father, as a husband and a friend far surpassed his achievements as an astronaut," Col. Green said.

Chaplain Col. Richard Hum tried to comfort Mrs. Anderson and her daughters during the eulogy.

"I know you must have mixed feelings of pride and sorrow today," he told Mrs. Anderson. "Your husband was a remarkable man. Our country grieves with you."

"I know you must be hurt and confused right now," Col. Hum told Col. Anderson's daughters. "I want you to know your dad loved you very much."

As Col. Hum read a passage from the Bible that talked about God working all things for the good of those who love him, Col. Anderson's mother, Barbara, slowly nodded her head in affirmation.

Col. Anderson, 43, received a full military funeral, which was attended by about 200 family and friends. Secretary of the Air Force James G. Roche and Gen. Lance W. Lord, commander of the Air Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., also attended.

The Air Force conducted a flyover and the honor guard fired a three-round volley in salute.

Col. Anderson was born in Plattsburgh, N.Y., but considered Spokane, Wash., his hometown.

He was the son of an Air Force man and grew up on military bases. He was flying refueling squadrons for the Air Force when NASA chose him in 1994 as one of only a handful of black astronauts. He traveled to Russia's space station Mir in 1998, and he was in charge of Columbia's dozens of science experiments.

Col. Anderson is the fifth of the seven Columbia astronauts to be buried. Navy Cmdr. Laurel B. Clark, 41, of Racine, Wis., and Navy Capt. David M. Brown, 46, of Arlington, will be buried at Arlington on Monday and Wednesday, respectively.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide