|Jim Irwin, Colonel, United States Air Force, had a brilliant but challenging career. His is a story of difficult challenges, met, and with hard work and perserverence, overcome.
Jim had what could have seen a life changing experience back in 1961. He had just graduated from the Air Force test pilot school at Edwards Air Force base. One morning as he was teaching a student how to fly, the student lost control of the light aircraft and they crashed. Both were seriously injured. Jim had two broken legs, a broken jaw, many teeth gone, concussion, and multiple lacerations. When Jim arrived at the hospital doctors told him he would probably not fly again. I can imagine his despair. Laying there in the hospital Jim made up his mind he would do everything within his power to heal and to rebuild his body. His mind and spirit were undaunted.
With an almost superhuman will Jim went about his self-appointed task. He searched for the optimum combination of diet, rest, and exercise and then day after day, week after week, month after month he made the sacrifice. All the determination, hard work and pain to get back in top shape were not wasted.
Ten years later Jim Irwin, the young Air Force pilot, who the doctors thought only ten years earlier might never walk again, was standing on the Moon.
After leaving NASA, Jim authored a number of books about his life and his experiences as a young boy growing up, a young man in the Air Force, and as a NASA astronaut. He gave me one of those books as a gift, and I treasure it today. He inscribed, "decisions determined destination! - Your grateful brother - Jim Irwin, Apollo 15."