June Scobee Rodgers, along with her children, Kathie Scobee Fulgham and Lt Gen. Richard Scobee, and accompanied by Lt. Gen. Don Rodgers, will present Chattanooga’s National Medal of Honor Heritage Center with Challenger Commander Francis Richard “Dick” Scobee’s Space Medal of Honor in a private ceremony on Tuesday. The presentation will also kick off the center’s $2.5 million campaign to develop a new immersive exhibit on the life of Commander Scobee, focusing on his career as a test pilot and his role as a shuttle pilot and commander in America’s space program.
Since 1969, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor has been awarded by the President of the United States to 28 astronauts who in the performance of their duties have distinguished themselves “by exceptionally meritorious efforts and contributions to the welfare of the Nation and of mankind.” In 2004, Scobee’s family posthumously received the commendation as commander of the ill-fated Challenger space shuttle.
The National Medal of Honor Heritage Center caught the eye of June Scobee Rodgers not long after opening in February 2020. “I walk past the center almost every day,” notes June, who calls Chattanooga home. “I decided to visit and was amazed how the exhibits come alive. I learned so much about our nation’s history. After talking it over with my family we decided this would be an incredible place for the Space Medal of Honor and somewhere we can share it with so many other people, especially children who might be inspired by Scobee’s story of commitment.”
Throughout their life together, Dick and June Scobee worked as a team. “Sometimes we forget that astronauts are real people who struggle at times in their lives. They work hard for what they accomplish. To a person, they all believe in being a patriot and want to give back to their country.”
Heritage Center Executive Director, David Currey, has spearheaded the effort in recent months to envision a new immersive and interactive exhibit centered around Commander Scobee and the Space Medal of Honor. “Dick Scobee’s story is both aspirational and inspirational. He worked his way up through the Air Force ranks from airplane mechanic to flying combat missions to test pilot and is eventually one of the first candidates chosen for the new space shuttle program. It is important to remember that we, as outside observers, only witness a small part of the astronaut experience.”
Curry continued, “Together as a nation, we have celebrated their achievements and agonized over their tragedies – from the Mercury program forward. However, these men and women, along with their families, make tremendous sacrifices that certainly go above and beyond the call of duty. The life of Lt Col. Dick Scobee is a testament to the courage, commitment, and many of those sacrifices that are sometimes necessary to fully realize one’s dreams. Here at the Heritage Center, we are honored that the Scobee family has given us an opportunity to tell that story.”
Following the ceremony, the Scobee Space Medal of Honor will be on temporary exhibit at the Heritage Center. The center is open seven days a week and is located next door to the Tennessee Aquarium in downtown Chattanooga. If you are interested in knowing more about plans for the new exhibit or are interested in donating to the project, please visit the website, www.mohhc.org, or contact Vince Butler, Development Director, for more information at [email protected] or (423) 290-1470.
National Medal of Honor Heritage Center
Located in downtown Chattanooga at the TN Aquarium Plaza, the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center is a 19,000-square-foot facility featuring immersive, award-winning exhibits that tell the amazing, real-life stories of ordinary people who demonstrated extraordinary heroism under the most difficult circumstances.
The National Medal of Honor Heritage Center is open Monday – Saturday 9:00am – 5:00pm, Sunday 10:00am – 3:30pm. For admission rates and tickets please visit MOHHC.org/visit.
For more information on education programs, special exhibits, events, and annual memberships, please visit www.MOHHC.org or call 423-877-2525.