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Apollo 1 remembered in honored tradition

Three former space pioneers were honored during the 47th annual Apollo 1 Memorial Ceremony Jan. 27, 2014, at Launch Complex 34, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. (U.S. Air Force photo/Matthew Jurgens)

Three former space pioneers were honored during the 47th annual Apollo 1 Memorial Ceremony Jan. 27, 2014, at Launch Complex 34, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. (U.S. Air Force photo/Matthew Jurgens)

Col. Robert Pavelko, 45th Space Wing vice commander, speaks during the 47th annual Apollo 1 Memorial Ceremony Jan. 27, 2014, at Launch Complex 34, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. “Roger Chaffee, Gus Grissom and Ed White dedicated their lives to this nation and furthering space exploration. Their legacy lives on.”(U.S. Air Force photo/Matthew Jurgens)

Col. Robert Pavelko, 45th Space Wing vice commander, speaks during the 47th annual Apollo 1 Memorial Ceremony Jan. 27, 2014, at Launch Complex 34, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. “Roger Chaffee, Gus Grissom and Ed White dedicated their lives to this nation and furthering space exploration. Their legacy lives on.”(U.S. Air Force photo/Matthew Jurgens)

"I know for a fact that Betty and her family were overwhelmed and overjoyed with the way this year's event was conducted," said Dr. Sonny Witt, director of operations, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, pictured here with Mrs. Gus Grissom at the Apollo 1 Ceremony Jan. 27, 2014. "My hat goes off to every single person who helped organize this event and to all the people who came here to show their support for three American heroes," he said. (U.S. Air Force photo/Matthew Jurgens)

"I know for a fact that Betty and her family were overwhelmed and overjoyed with the way this year's event was conducted," said Dr. Sonny Witt, director of operations, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, pictured here with Mrs. Gus Grissom at the Apollo 1 Ceremony Jan. 27, 2014. "My hat goes off to every single person who helped organize this event and to all the people who came here to show their support for three American heroes," he said. (U.S. Air Force photo/Matthew Jurgens)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- Three former space pioneers were honored during the 47th annual Apollo 1 Memorial Ceremony Jan. 27 at Launch Complex 34, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The memorial honored crew members, Command Pilot Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Senior Pilot Edward H. White II 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.

"As we honor three American heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice for this great Nation, we remember them for not how they died, but the ideals for which they lived," said Col. Robert Pavelko, 45th Space Wing vice commander. "We strive to emulate their leadership, integrity and dedication."

More than 100 family and friends of the spaceflight heroes were also in attendance.

Betty, Grissom's wife, was recognized for the sacrifices she made during Gus Grissom's career. She has attended the ceremony every year since the tragedy. Additionally, three candles were lit to pay homage to the astronauts.

Scott Grissom, Gus' son, said the ceremony is important because future generations will remember this day in history.

Dr. Sonny Witt, 45th Mission Support Group director of operations, said the Grissom family was extremely pleased with the turnout and the showing of emotion at Complex 34.

"Taking part in the Apollo 1 memorial is an absolute honor for all of us who get the opportunity to do so," said Witt, a long-time organizer for the event.

"Betty and her family were overwhelmed and overjoyed with the way this year's event was conducted," he said. "My hat goes off to every single person who helped organize this event and to all the people who came here to show their support for three American heroes.

Along with Pavelko, Janet Petro, Kennedy Space Center deputy director and Capt. J. P. Heatherington, Naval Ordnance Test Unit commander, also served as guest speakers for the event.

At exactly 6:31 p.m. audience members fell silent for the conclusion of the memorial, the exact moment the flash fire occurred, killing all three astronauts, while a NOTU bugler played Taps.

"Each launch provides a constant reminder of the efforts of those heroes and their families who came before us," Pavelko said. "Roger Chaffee, Gus Grissom and Ed White dedicated their lives to this nation and furthering space exploration. Their legacy lives on."