Astronaut Walter Cunningham was born March 16th, 1932, in Creston, Iowa. He enlisted in the Navy in 1951, began his flight training in 1952 and, in 1953, took his commission as a 2nd Lt and served on active duty with the United States Marine Corps. He flew 54 missions as a night fighter pilot in Korea. From 1956 through 1975, he served in reserve squadrons until his retirement as a Colonel of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Cunningham was a member of NASA’s third astronaut class in 1963. He was the backup Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 1 and on the prime crew for Apollo 2 until it was cancelled. In October of 1968, Cunningham piloted the eleven-day flight of Apollo 7 with astronauts Walter M. Schirra, Jr. and Donn F. Eisele. The mission completed eight successful tests and maneuvering ignitions of the service module propulsion engine, measured the accuracy of performance of all spacecraft systems, and provided the first effective television transmission of on-board crew activities.
Cunningham's last assignment at NASA’s Johnson Space Center was Chief of the Skylab branch of the Flight Crew Directorate. While there, he was responsible for the operational inputs for five major pieces of manned space hardware, two different launch vehicles and 56 major onboard experiments that comprised the Skylab program.