Photos by William Cooper, text by Mark R. Hatlie
These photos were taken on November 18th, 2005, on the Strand in Hermosa Beach. It memorializes local astronaut Greg Jarvis and the other Challenger crew members who died in January, 1986. You can read about Greg Jarvis at the NASA website. Pictures of his grave in New York can be viewed here.
|The blackness of the space tiles contrasts quite effectively with the beach background.|
|Click on the photo to read the plaque.|
|Astronaut and school teacher McAuliffe got almomst all the press coverage before and after the disaster. The news showed how her schoolchildren reacted to watching her die. These mission patches are one indication that space missions are anything but routine. They don't design a new patch for every transatlantic flight.|
|Graffiti "artists" have done their work on all the tiles. But the memorial must have been renovated. When I first stumbled across the memorial by chance a number of years ago, it was in much worse condition.|
|One of the tiles shows his hobby, tandem bicycling, which he used to share with his wife Marcia.|
|The memorial is close to the Hermosa Beach pier, here visible in the background.|
|The tiles were apparently provided by Keiser Ceramics.|
This is the only memorial I have ever seen where I knew the subject personally. I met Greg through friends of friends on several occasions, the longest being a weekend bicycle trip in about 1980. I hadn't seen him in a number of years when I heard about the accident. I was away at college and had heard that he would be on a mission sometime in the future. When I heard about the accident, I spent a long time in front of the TV in the college snack bar trying to figure out if he had been on that mission. All the news was about McAuliffe. They didn't say the names for a long time and, when they showed the astronauts boarding the shuttle, Greg was always the last in line and shown only briefly. After a few times through the news, however, I was sure. Two years later, in a college creative writing class, I wrote a poem about it called "Reach and burn in the dark morning sky".