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Charles Duke

Veterans in Blue

Veterans in Blue

Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Charles Duke is a 29-year Air Force veteran who served as a fighter pilot, instructor pilot and was the 10th astronaut to walk on the moon. 

Duke commissioned in the Air Force as a 2nd Lieutenant upon graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1957.  He was then stationed for three years as a fighter interceptor pilot with the 526th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, where he logged more than 3,600 hours in an F-86D Sabre.

Completing Test Pilot School, he stayed there and became an instructor pilot at the school. With the encouragement of his commandant retired Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager, Duke applied for the Apollo Program and in 1966 was one of the 19 selected by NASA to become an astronaut.

April 20, 1972, serving as the lunar module pilot on Apollo 16, he became the 10th man to set foot on the moon and stayed on the lunar surface for a record-setting time of 71 hours and 14 minutes. The Apollo 16 mission was the first scientific expedition to inspect, survey and collect sample materials from the surface of the moon; the mission was a success, bringing back nearly 213 pounds of samples.

Duke retired from active duty in 1975 and joined the Air Force Reserves as special assistant to the Commander of USAF Recruiting Service. While serving in the recruiting service, he used his experience as an astronaut to help recruit engineers and doctors into the Air Force.

After a decade in the Air Force Reserves he retired in 1986.