Fred Haise’s legacy in the United States Space Program was forged during a career as a fighter pilot with the Marines and Air Force as well as his time at the University of Oklahoma. The Biloxi, Mississippi native was born in 1933 and eventually found his calling in the air with a promising career serving in the United States military. During his time, he accumulated 9,300 hours flying time, including 6,200 hours in jets.
After his first stint in the military, Haise desired to become a test pilot. In order to achieve this, he needed to be educated as an engineer. This is what brought Haise to OU, where he pursued a degree in aeronautical engineering in 1957. He graduated in 1959 with honors with his bachelor's of science. He did not leave his military career behind during his time as a Sooner; serving in the Oklahoma Air National Guard with the 185th Fighter Interceptor Squadron for his three years in Norman.
Haise was able to fulfill his dream of becoming a test pilot by joining the newly formed NASA shortly after graduating from OU. He would be called back into military service during the Berlin Crisis and served ten more months as a tactical fighter pilot for the 164th Tactical Fighter Squadron.
Haise then became involved with NASA once again in 1966, this time as an astronaut. He would be a backup for the Lunar Module Pilot for both Apollo 8 and Apollo 11. His training proved crucial when he was the lunar module pilot on Apollo 13 in 1970: after an oxygen tank explosion during the mission, he and his crewmates relied on the Lunar Module Aquarius systems while they looped around the moon and made a harrowing return to Earth. This event was depicted in the 1995 film Apollo 13.
Haise’s career with NASA ended with his retirement from 1979.