AFSPC 2012 Air Force Space and Missile Pioneer Col. John P. Stapp (Ret.)
Gen. William Shelton presents the command's 2012 Air Force Space and Missile Pioneer award to Wilford Stapp at Peterson AFB, Colo., Sept. 14, 2012. Shelton is the Air Force Space Command commander. Mr. Stapp accepted the posthumous award on behalf of his brother, Pioneer inductee retired Col. John P. Stapp. (Courtesty photo)
Annual Space, Missile Pioneers Inducted

by Lt. Col. Katherine Pallozzi
Air Force Space Command Public Affairs

9/17/2012 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  -- In celebration of Air Force Space Command's 30th Anniversary, Gen. William L. Shelton, Air Force Space Command commander, inducted the command's 2012 Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers in an award ceremony and hall of fame induction today at The Club here.

This year's inductees are Dr. Hans M. Mark and retired Colonel John P. Stapp (posthumously).

Dr. Mark, former Secretary of the Air Force, advocated the establishment of an Air Force major command for space operations, initiated plans for a new military control facility and fostered military orbital missions using the space shuttle.

Col. Stapp directed and personally participated in record-setting rocket-sled and stratospheric balloon experiments to study the "biodynamics" of human spaceflight, thereby earning him the nickname "Space Surgeon Stapp" in a 1995 issue of Time magazine.

More than 135 family and guests looked on as Gen. Shelton inducted Mark and Stapp, who was represented by his brother, Wilford Stapp, by presenting the official patch of the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneer to each.

"We are so proud of the heritage that has been established by all the inductees in the hall of fame," said General Shelton. "We celebrate the history that's here and the legacy created by these great men. We stand on your shoulders."

"Looking back, there really were so many people who started this command...a lot of things could be said about what I was supposed to do, but I'm getting too much credit for this," Mark humbly commented upon his induction.

"He really cared for the Air Force. He found, as many of you have, that the real satisfaction and happiness comes most from helping others," said Stapp as he received the award on behalf of his brother.

A portrait of Dr. Mark and Col. Stapp will be hung in the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame here.

The Air Force Space and Missile Pioneer Award recognizes individuals who played a significant role in the history of Air Force space and missile programs, educates Air Force Space Command personnel, Air Force personnel, other DoD members, and the general public about the contributions of significant figures in Air Force space and missile history, generates interest in the study of Air Force space and missile history, and encourages Air Force Space Command and other Air Force personnel to appreciate and understand their space and missile heritage.

The annual award was first given under the sponsorship of the National Space Club in Washington D.C., which in 1989 honored 10 key military and civilian leaders in the Air Force space program. In 1997, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Air Force and the 15th anniversary of the Air Force Space Command, the award was formalized into an official Air Force award. Since then a select few have been honored with the award each year.