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Apollo 1 Memorial Ceremony: A night to reflect and remember

The 46th anniversary of the Apollo I ceremony was held the evening of Jan. 27 at Launch Complex 34 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Taking part in the memorial service are family members of Air Force Lt. Col. Virgil "Gus" Grissom, one of the three astronauts killed. Attending are (left to right) his grandson, Cody, his son, Scott and his wife, Betty. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ Matthew Jurgens)

The 46th anniversary of the Apollo I ceremony was held the evening of Jan. 27, 2012 at Launch Complex 34 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Taking part in the memorial service are family members of Air Force Lt. Col. Virgil "Gus" Grissom, one of the three astronauts killed. Attending are (left to right) his grandson, Cody, his son, Scott and his wife, Betty. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ Matthew Jurgens)

Brig. Gen. Anthony Cotton, commander, 45th Space Wing, pays tribute to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice during the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 1 tragedy. The ceremony was held to honor three American spaceflight heroes, Air Force Lt. Cols. Edward H. White II and Virgil "Gus" Grissom, along with the third member of their Apollo 1 team, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Roger Chafee, who were all killed during a "full dress rehearsal" in their Saturn 1B rocket Jan 27, 1967. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ Matthew Jurgens)

Brig. Gen. Anthony Cotton, commander, 45th Space Wing, pays tribute to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice during the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 1 tragedy. The ceremony was held to honor three American spaceflight heroes, Air Force Lt. Cols. Edward H. White II and Virgil "Gus" Grissom, along with the third member of their Apollo 1 team, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Roger Chafee, who were all killed during a "full dress rehearsal" in their Saturn 1B rocket Jan 27, 1967. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ Matthew Jurgens)

Col. Robert Pavelko, vice commander, 45th Space Wing, offers his condolences to Mrs. Betty Grissom, wife of Astronaut Gus Grissom at the Apollo 1 ceremony held on Launch Complex 34 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ Matthew Jurgens)

Col. Robert Pavelko, vice commander, 45th Space Wing, offers his condolences to Mrs. Betty Grissom, wife of Astronaut Gus Grissom at the Apollo 1 ceremony held on Launch Complex 34 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ Matthew Jurgens)

At exactly 6:31 p.m., a bugler from the Naval Ordnance Test Unit plays taps. That is the exact time the flash fire occurred, killing all three astronauts. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ Matthew Jurgens)

At exactly 6:31 p.m., a bugler from the Naval Ordnance Test Unit plays taps. That is the exact time the flash fire occurred, killing all three astronauts. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ Matthew Jurgens)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The 45th Space Wing hosted the 46th annual Apollo 1 Memorial Ceremony, Jan. 27 held at Launch Complex 34 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The event honored three former space pioneers, Apollo 1 crew members, Command Pilot Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Senior Pilot Edward H. White and Pilot Roger B. Chaffee, who were killed by a flash fire during a launch pad test of their Saturn 1B rocket, Jan. 27, 1967.

Grissom's wife, Betty Grissom, was in attendance at the event. During the ceremony, she was recognized for the sacrifices she made during Gus Grissom's career. She has attended the ceremony every year since the tragedy.

"You have given more than anyone could have asked," said Brig. Gen. Anthony Cotton, 45th Space Wing commander. "And we are grateful to you for the sacrifices that you have made."

Also in attendance were family members and descendents of the spaceflight heroes. Gus Grissom's grandson, Cody, lit three symbolic candles to pay tribute to the astronauts.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, exactly 6:31 p.m., a bugler from the Naval Ordnance Test Unit played taps. This is the exact moment the flash fire occurred, killing all three astronauts.
General Cotton closed the evening's ceremonies with a tribute to the space heroes and a message of gratitude from the members of the wing.

"On behalf of the men and women of the 45th Space Wing, thank you for letting us be a part of this solemn anniversary," he said. "We thank and salute each and every one of you for the great things you have done for our nation."