Charlie Duke was born in Charlotte, NC, in 1935. Led by a desire to serve his country, Duke attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Following graduation, he was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force, and thus began a life-long love of flying. Over the years as fighter pilot, test pilot, and then encouraged by his commandant Chuck Yeager to become an Apollo astronaut, this love of adventure grew to the pinnacle of achievement when on April 20, 1972, Charlie Duke, along with John Young, landed on the surface of the moon. Their stay on the moon was a record-setting 71 hours and 14 minutes.
Duke and Young spent more than 20 hours exploring the moon. This involved emplacement and activation of scientific equipment and experiments, the collection of nearly 213 pounds of rock and soil samples, and the evaluation and use of Rover-2 (their lunar car) over the roughest and blockiest surface yet encountered on the moon. Charlie Duke filmed the only pictures made of the rover in action - it's record setting speed was 17 kilometers per hour. During Apollo's three day return from the moon, Duke experienced a space walk with the third crew member, Ken Mattingly. The view over one shoulder was filled with a brilliant full moon and over the other hung a crescent earth - a thin sliver of blue and white. "Fantastic!" Charlie would exclaim again and again.
Apollo 16 returned to a hero's welcome, with Duke, Young and Mattingly each receiving the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. Since Charlie Duke's retirement from NASA in 1975, he has been very active in business. He formed and was president of Orbit Corporation (a beverage company distributorship). He has been an active partner in real estate shopping center development and was president and investor of several companies.
Charlie Duke also served in the Air Force Reserves as special assistant to the Commander of USAF Recruiting Service, meeting all goals in recruitment of engineers and doctors. He traveled extensively speaking at schools and universities as part of Project Warrior. Charlie Duke was appointed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to the NASA Advisory Council.
Duke is currently the chairman of the board of directors for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.
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