Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has honored an Ohio native with strong ties to Wright Patterson Air Force Base, one who became an Air Force fighter pilot and the first black man to go to space.
DeWine presented the Ohio Distinguished Service Medal to Col. Guion Bluford, a retired U.S. Air Force officer, for his lifetime achievements in service to the state and the nation.
Bluford of Westlake, Ohio is a graduate of the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson. He flew 144 combat missions in South Vietnam as a pilot, before going on to earn a master’s degree and a doctorate degree in aerospace engineering at AFIT.
Bluford later entered the space program at NASA and became the first black astronaut to travel to space in 1983, a state biography noted.
Sometimes called “Guy” Bluford, the retired astronaut also visited AFIT in November as part of a panel of former astronauts discussing AFIT’s centennial celebration. He was named a “distinguished alumni” of AFIT in 2002.
“Your commitment and dedication over the course of your career in aviation are a tremendous inspiration to generations of Ohioans,” DeWine said in a recent medal presentation at the Ohio Statehouse. “As NASA prepares for future missions to space, the next generation of astronauts will be looking to follow in your footsteps.”
The Ohio Distinguished Service Medal is Ohio’s highest non-combat decoration for service.