Sunday, January 28, 2007


The Onizuka Space Center on the grounds of Keahole-Kona airport. Colonel Ellison Onizuka was born and graduated from high school in Kealakekua-Kona. His grandparents came from Fukuoka, Japan; and his wife was also from the Big Island. Captain James Cook died near Kealakekua, on a mission to circle Earth that Cook never completed.

Onizuka became Hawaii's first astronaut on mission STS-51C in 1985. As part of the Challenger crew, he died on January 28, 1986. His name also survives in the Onizuka Centre for International Astronomy on the slopes of Mauna Kea, and Onizuka Air Force Base in California.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, --and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of --Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air...
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew --
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God


Blogger CarlBrannen said...

Oh the sadness from people who die too early lasts for a very long time. At the DPF meeting in Hawaii this past October, I got in a little early and was able to visit the marker where my uncle's name is inscribed, along with many others who disappeared in the Pacific in 1944. On his last flight he was performing the duties of a gunner.

6:46 PM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Great that you were able to visit your uncle's marker in Hawaii. It's very sad, but Onizuka (and probably your uncle) died in service of something they believed in.

7:19 PM  
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