Alan B. Sherpard, Jr. was born on November 18th, 1923. He was raised in East Derry, New Hampshire on his family and attended East Derry's one-room schoolhouse. His father, Alan B. Shepard, Sr. was a retired Army Officer and his Mother, Renza Shepard was a homemaker.
The Start of a Journey
I'm actually working for NASA!
Shepard was an excellent student, and he won an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. After graduation, he served on the destroyer Cogswell during the closing months of World War II. At the end of the war, he married Louise Brewer, whom he had met while attending the Naval Academy.
Darn you inner ear disturbance...
Shepard was eager to receive his wings and get his wings and pilot's license that he studied at a civilian flying school in his spare time while attending naval flight training at Corpus Christi, Texas, and Pensacola, Florida. After receiving his wings, he served with the 42nd Fighter Squadron for several tours of duty aboard aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean.
The End of a Wait
In 1959, the newly created National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) invited 110 top test pilots to volunteer for the manned space flight program. Of the original 110, Shepard was among the seven chosen for Project Mercury and presented to the public at a press conference on April 8, 1959.
Shepard was scheduled to command the first Gemini mission when he was diagnosed with an inner ear disturbance affecting his equilibrium. This disturbance kept him out of space for the next six years. He remained with NASA as chief of the astronaut office, but could only sit and watch as younger astronauts of Project Apollo prepared for travel to the moon.
Shepard, along with his fellow astronauts, landed on the moon on February 9th, 1971. Also, Shepard batted golf balls into space before he got back in the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) to return to the craft orbiting above. He was promoted from Admiral before finally retiring from the Navy and from NASA.