This is the iconic picture of the three astronauts of Apollo 13 from left-right Fred Haise, Jim Lovell and Jack Swigert aboard the Navy rescue ship Iwo Jima. Taken just after splashdown in the Pacific Ocean on April 17, 1970. Picture from JSC/NASA.

While working from home during this time of the great shutdown, I was interested to hear that this month marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission. We so loved the movie Apollo 13 and watched it a number of times, including again this past weekend. My husband’s family has members who have served NASA as well. We are a family of space folk. However, my true delight came in remembering one of Wabash’s most loyal sons and his part in the Apollo 13 drama.

The picture above is that iconic shot of the three weary fellows just coming off their retrieval helicopter. And see that face in the red circle just behind Fred Haise’s waving arm? That is Wabash man, and for many years Wabash’s doctor, Keith Baird [W1956].

Keith graduated from high school in Evansville and came to Wabash before leaving to join the Army.  Following basic training he was posted to the Korean theater during that war. When his hitch was up, he returned to Wabash where he was a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. After graduation in 1956, Keith entered the Indiana University Medical School. Dr. Baird served his residency in Iowa. When that was completed he returned to Crawfordsville and entered family practice here. In a bold move, Keith went to work for Grumman Aircraft on Long Island, the company that manufactured the Apollo Lunar Module. It was through this connection that Dr. Baird went to NASA to serve on their medical staff.

In February of 2011, Keith gave a chapel talk recounting that time in his life. Here is a link to that talk:

As readers of a certain age will remember, the splashdown of the Apollo astronauts was always a big thrill. To know that a Wabash man was on the scene only makes the delight that much richer. If you haven’t watched Apollo 13 in a few years, I most highly recommend it. A great movie celebrating the achievement of science and man’s quest to reach for the stars.

All best,

Beth Swift

Archivist, Wabash College

Crawfordsville, Indiana