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February 25, 1974


JAMA. 1974;227(8):935-936. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230210045013

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A Lesson From Gus  The late astronaut Gus Grissom was my friend. When he, along with Ed White and Roger Chaffee, perished in the tragic fire of Jan 27, 1967, I felt a personal loss.Among other things, Gus taught me a lesson about patients as people. It happened in 1963 when he was our capsule communicator for the Wally Schirra mission, in the early days of Project Mercury.In those days, space pioneering was high adventure—a science fiction-like, mind-boggling affair. The solitary man, strapped into a broom-closet sized spacecraft orbiting the earth, bore the charisma of the World War I fighter pilot with white scarf flowing, firing pistols, and throwing monkey wrenches at the enemy.It happened in Louie's Piano Bar at the Kauai Surf on that magic island. A team of engineers, technicians, and Gus (I was the medical flight controller) were exhausted from a week of simulated