Captain Michael J. Smith, Beaufort
The memorial to Captain Michael John Smith, who tragically died in the 1986 explosion of the “Challenger” space shuttle, is a lectern shaped block of granite approximately four feet tall. Inscriptions appear on the lectern top and front and the poem “High Flight” by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. appears on the back. Above the front inscription is a bronze NASA Naval Astronaut badge. Incised on the rear above the poem is a Naval Aviator Badge surrounded by a cloud and sunrays.
Images: Rear view | Street view | View from the boardwalk
Top: MICHAEL JOHN SMITH / CAPTAIN / UNITED STATES NAVY / NASA ASTRONAUT
Front: BORN / APRIL 30, 1945 / BEAUFORT, NC / DIED / JANUARY 28, 1986 / PILOT / SPACE SHUTTLE CHALLENGER
Rear: Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth / And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings. / Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth / Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things / You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung / High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there / I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung / My eager craft through footless halls of air. / Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue / I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace / Where never lark, or even eagle flew, / And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod / The high unsurpassed sanctity of space, / Put out my hand, and touched the face of God. / BY John Gillespie Magee Jr.
34.716790 , -76.667150 View in Geobrowse
Michael J. Smith was a Naval Academy graduate born in Beaufort, NC. After serving in Vietnam as an attack squadron pilot he became a Navy test pilot. In 1980 he was selected as an astronaut and served as the pilot of space shuttle Challenger STS 51-L, which broke apart one minute and 13 seconds after its launch. Another North Carolina native Dr. Ronald E. McNair was also aboard the doomed flight.
The marker is located off the boardwalk that runs along Front St. and Taylor Creek. It is directly across the street from 425 Front Street in Beaufort, NC.
The marker is surrounded by rose bushes facing the waterfront boardwalk along Taylor Creek in Beaufort, NC.