Chickasaw Nation

2018 – Science,

John Herrington is a retired United States Naval Aviator and former NASA astronaut. He was the first enrolled member of a Native tribe to fly in space. To honor his Chickasaw heritage, Herrington, a member of the Chickasaw Nation, carried its flag on his 13-day trip to space. The flag had been presented to him by Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby. During his military service, he was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation, Coast Guard Special Operations Service Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Sea Service Ribbons (3), and various other service awards. 

Selected by NASA in April 1996, Herrington reported to the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in August 1996. He completed two years of training and evaluation, and qualified for flight assignment as a mission specialist. Herrington was assigned to the Flight Support Branch of the Astronaut Office where he served as a member of the Astronaut Support Personnel team responsible for Shuttle launch preparations and post-landing operations. Herrington was selected as a Mission Specialist for STS-113, the sixteenth Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station. Endeavour was launched from Kennedy Space Center on November 23, 2002, to deliver the P1 Truss segment, which provides structural support for the Space Station radiators. Endeavour also delivered a new Expedition 6 crew to the Station, returning to Earth on December 7, 2002, with the Expedition 5 crew ending their 6-month stay in space. The total mission duration was 13 days, 18 hours and 47 minutes. During the mission Herrington performed three spacewalks, totaling 19 hours and 55 minutes.

He earned his PhD in education from the University of Idaho in 2014.  In 2016, Herrington authored a children’s book called Mission to Space published by White Dog Press, a secondary imprint of Chickasaw Press. In the book, Herrington shares his passion for space travel and provides a glimpse into his astronaut training and mission to the International Space Station. The book includes an English to Chickasaw vocabulary list with space-related terms. 

Herrington was inducted into the Chickasaw Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2017, Herrington was inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space Museum.