Award Presented at the Minnesota History Center, St. Paul, Minnesota.
Captain Eugene A. Cernan received the Spirit Award for “his pioneering achievements in an aviation career and a spirit and character tha represent the best of this nation.” He is President and Chief Executive Officer of The Cernan Corporation, a space-related technology and marketing consulting firm. He is the former Chairman of Johnson Engineering Corporation, a NASA contractor, prior to its acquisition by SPACEHAB, Inc. Captain Cernan has acted as Special Consultant with television networks in on-camera support of covering space and related documentary programming ??? most notable among which are ABC Television?۪s News and Special Events and ESPN?۪s documentary coverage of ???EARTHWINDS HILTON.? He has recently authored THE LAST MAN ON THE MOON. Captain Cernan joined Digital Equipment in 1986 and served as an Executive Consultant, Aerospace and Government for the Government Systems Group organization until 1992.
From 1976 to 1981, Captain Cernan served as the Executive Vice President, International and Director of Coral Petroleum, Inc. He was charged with the corporate development of a world-wide supply and marketing strategy. During this period, Captain Cernan continued his education at the Wharton School of Finance and Northwestern University. After serving twenty years as a Naval Aviator, Captain Cernan retired from the United States Navy in 1976. The last thirteen of those years were dedicated to direct involvement with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) United States Space Program as an Astronaut. During his years with NASA, Captain Cernan flew on three separate space missions. He was the second American to walk in space as the pilot on Gemini IX, one of a crew of three to venture to the moon on Apollo X, and as Commander of Apollo XVII, Captain Cernan holds the distinction of being the last man to leave his footprints on the surface of the moon. Captain Cernan also actively participated in the design, engineering, and development testing of spacecraft hardware and systems. He was a member of the NASA senior management team and reviewed decisions which directly affected operations and mission planning. From 1973 through 1975, Captain Cernan served as a Senior United States Negotiator during discussions with the USSR concerning the joint United States and Soviet Apollo/Soyuz project. Captain Cernan received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana, in 1956. He earned a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering in 1963 from the United States Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, California. Captain Cernan was also awarded Honorary Doctorates of Engineering from Purdue, Drexel and Gonzaga Universities, and an Honorary Doctorate degree from Western State College of Law and Comenius University of the Slovak Republic. His honors include the Navy Distinguished Flying Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal with Star, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the FAI International Gold Medal for Space, the VFW Gold Space Award, the Daughters of the American Revolution Medal for Space, the Sons of the American Revolution George Washington Award, induction into the U.S. Space Hall of Fame, the Challenger Center?۪s ???Salute to the U.S. Space Program? Honor, Slovak American World Recognition Award, Czech Republic Presidential Medal of Honor and a Television Emmy. Captain Cernan was an Olympic Torch Bearer in May, 1996; was honored by the Illinois State Society as Outstanding Illinoisian during the 54th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, DC., was recipient of the national engineering award of the year, The Washington Award 2003; and in May, 2005, Captain Cernan was awarded NASA?۪s first Ambassador of Exploration Award. Captain Cernan was enshrined into the National Aviation Hall of Fame, the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame, and most recently in May 2006 into Naval Aviation?۪s Hall of Honor.