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Challenger Disaster

A reader might wonder what this has to do with the Coast Guard.  Well, there are certain events that most of us can remember exactly what we were doing when we heard about them happening.  I think most people can remember exactly what they were doing when the news broke about the events on September 11, 2001.  The Challenger Disaster falls into that category with me.

I attended Coast Guard Maritime Law Enforcement School from January 13 to February 21, 1986.  In those days the school was held at the Coast Guard Reserve Training Center (later called just "Training Center") in Yorktown, VA.   Tuesday, January 28 started out like any other day,  Because of the class schedule, we had lunch early that day between 11:00 and 12:00.  Since there wasn't too much of a line at 11:00, a bunch of us finished by 11:30 and came back a little early to watch the Space Shuttle Challenger lift off.  As you might recall, a little over a minute after takeoff the shuttle blew up with no survivors.  We were all in various states of shock for the rest of the day.   That was the first time I had ever actually watched people get killed live on TV.  Things like that tend to stick with you.  

As you may recall, one of the passengers on the Challenger was Christa McAuliffe, an educator from New Hampshire who had beat out over 11,000 other educators to be selected for the NASA Teacher in Space Project.  Her selection really increased interest in the program among schools.  Just about every school in the country was watching the launch live.  Considering how shocked most of us were, I can't imagine how school children felt.  I have spoken to many people who were students at the time and to this day they all recall the incident with crystal clarity.
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