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The Student News Site of Southwestern Oklahoma State University

The Southwestern

Thomas Stafford: Weatherford Icon

SWOSU Digital Commons
Stafford during the dedication of the Gen. Thomas P. Stafford Archives at the Al Harris Library on on March 11th, 2022

Weatherford icon Lieutenant General Thomas P. Stafford passed away on Monday, March 18. 


Talk to longtime residents of Weatherford, and they will tell you about the legend that is Thomas Stafford. Walk around town or the campus of SWOSU, and you will see many reminders of Stafford and the impact he has had on the community. 


Stafford was born and raised in Weatherford and graduated from Weatherford High School in 1948. Upon graduating from high school, Stafford attended and graduated from the United States Naval Academy, then became a 3-star general in the United States Air Force.


Throughout Stafford’s career, saying he had built a lengthy resume would be an understatement. Here are a few highlights of some of the things Stafford accomplished throughout his lengthy career:


Piloted Gemini 6a: a low earth orbit, space rendezvous. Was the Command pilot for Gemini 9a: space rendezvous with docking attempt. A member of the Apollo 7 Backup Crew. The Apollo 10 Commander, Crewed lunar orbit. (Considered the “dress rehearsal” for Apollo 11 Tested all components of the lunar landing mission aside from actually landing). A member of Apollo-Soyuz: the first international-crewed space mission. (American Apollo spacecraft docked with the Soviet Soyuz spacecraft). He became Air Force Flight Test Center command at Edwards AFB and Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Research and Development.

Apollo-Soyuz Test Project display at the Houston Space Center.
Via SWOSU Digital Commons (Ashlee Merritt)


Back here in Weatherford, signs of Stafford’s impact can be found all around town. Even on campus, the Stafford Building which sits in the center of campus is named after Thomas Stafford. Inside the Al Harris Library, you can find the Stafford Archives full of documents and other memorabilia from Stafford. On the east side of town sits the Stafford Air and Space Museum, full of space history and even artifacts directly from Stafford.  


Thomas P. Stafford had a profound impact on Weatherford, SWOSU, and space in general. His impact on the community and world will not be forgotten. 


“I grew up in western Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl and Depression and I flew to the moon. I’m living proof that nothing is impossible.” – Thomas P. Stafford


Done with help from Weatherford Daily News and their articles detailing Stafford’s life and legacy.

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About the Contributor
Coy Pope
Coy Pope, Media Manager
Coy Pope is a freshman from Yukon, Oklahoma and is majoring in Parks and Wildlife Law Enforcement with a minor in Wild land fire. He enjoys writing and covering sports, but also enjoys covering other activities, events and basically anything SWOSU-related. Coy wrote for the YHS Insight during all four years in high school.

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