Georgia Southern University hosts Col. Frederick “Fred” Gregory, the first African-American man to pilot and command a space mission and serve as the deputy administrator of NASA, as the 2017 Norman Fries Distinguished Lectureship Series speaker at 7:30 p.m. today.
Free and open to the public, the lecture will be held in the Nessmith-Lane Conference Center Assembly Hall, 847 Plant Drive.
With his presentation, “An Astronaut’s View of Choices, Influences, Contributions and Other Stuff Later Discovered,” Gregory will discuss his stellar career and the concept of choices in life.
“Looking down from space at our beautiful home, Earth, one wonders what choices had been offered and taken, what goals were considered, evaluated and selected, what influences shaped your path, and what molded the character that you had become,” Gregory said. “My life offers many choices. Each choice taken, or not taken, has a profound effect on where you are right now.”
After graduating from the United States Air Force Academy in 1964, Gregory entered pilot training and attended undergraduate helicopter training at Stead Air Force Base in Nevada. He then served as a helicopter rescue pilot, a combat rescue pilot in Vietnam, a missile support helicopter pilot and a fixed-wing pilot.
He later attended the Naval Test Pilot School and served as an operational test pilot. In 1974 he was detailed to the NASA Langley Research Center, where he served as a research test pilot for several years.
Gregory was selected as an astronaut in 1978 and served several rotations in space through the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. His first assignment was as pilot of the space shuttle Challenger followed soon after by the Discovery. He has logged more than 6,976 hours flying time in more than 50 types of aircraft — including 550 combat missions in Vietnam.
Gregory serves on the board of directors for the Young Astronaut Council, the Challenge Center for Space Science Education and the Virginia Air and Space Center-Hampton Roads History Center.
Among his many honors, Gregory holds the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the National Intelligence Medal of Achievement, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 16 Air Medals and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.
The annual Norman Fries Distinguished Lectureship series began in 2001. It is funded by an endowment in honor of the late Norman Fries, founder of Claxton Poultry.