The “Aggie War Hymn” resounded higher than ever as the Aggie Spirit traveled to the moon nearly 50 years ago to wake up the Apollo 17 crew on Dec. 13, 1972.
Gerry Griffin ’56, the lead flight director in mission control, selected a Singing Cadets recording of the song as the seventh day’s wake-up call to share his maroon and white pride with the team, including astronaut and mission commander Eugene Cernan. The spirit was lost on the Purdue University graduate, who remarked, “I’ve woke up to a lot of pleasant thoughts, but never to an Aggie before.”
Apollo 17 marked the last manned trip to the moon, and Cernan and his two crewmates performed geological surveys and scientific experiments during the 13-day mission. It was not, however, the last time the notes of Aggieland reached the stars. During his time as the Johnson Space Center director, Griffin played the war hymn in 1983 to wake the STS-7 space shuttle crew each morning. The war hymn and “The Spirit of Aggieland” also served as wake-up calls during space shuttle missions in 2006 and 2008 in honor of mission specialist Col. Michael Fossum ’80.