Alumni Hall of Fame

John L. Swigert Jr.
John L. Swigert Jr.
Inducted September 2003

John L. Swigert Jr.

Class of 1965

An Air Force fighter pilot and engineering test pilot, John “Jack” Swigert earned a master’s degree in aerospace science from Rensselaer’s Hartford campus in 1965 and in 1966 was selected by NASA in its fifth astronaut class.

Assigned to the backup crew of the Apollo 13 mission to the moon, he replaced the prime command pilot just days before take-off. Swigert, Jim Lovell, and Fred Haise were forced to abort the mission when an oxygen tank exploded; they converted their lunar module into a lifeboat, conserving enough power to assure their survival in the harrowing journey back to Earth.

Swigert was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1970. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Colorado in November 1982, but died of bone cancer one month later before he could be sworn in.

The state of Colorado placed a statue of Swigert in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol in 1997.