BELTON, Texas – The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor is excited to welcome astronaut Charlie Duke as the featured speaker for the 2021 McLane Lecture on Wednesday, Sept. 29, at 11 a.m. in the arena of the Frank & Sue Mayborn Campus Center. The event is free and open to the public.
While previous McLane Lecture speakers have traveled all around the world, Duke has ventured beyond it and, as a member of the Apollo 16 crew, became one of only a dozen people in human history to step foot on a celestial body other than Earth.
Duke was born in Charlotte, N.C. on Oct. 3, 1935. He graduated as the valedictorian of his class at Admiral Farragut Academy in 1953, then went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in naval sciences from the U.S. Naval Academy. Upon receiving his commission in the U.S. Air Force, he entered pilot training and received his wings in 1958. Duke served three years in Germany as a fighter interceptor pilot; he was then assigned to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he completed a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics in 1964. He entered the USAF Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base and completed his training there in 1965.
Duke was one of the 19 astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966. He served as the CAPCOM (spacecraft communicator) for Apollo 11’s hair-raising landing on the moon and as the backup lunar module pilot for Apollo 13. In 1972, he piloted the lunar module of Apollo 16, accompanied on the mission by John W. Young, spacecraft commander, and Thomas K. Mattingly II, command module pilot. While on the lunar surface, Duke and Young logged more than 20 hours of extravehicular activities as they placed and activated scientific experiments and collected nearly 213 pounds of rock and soil samples.
Following the successful completion of the mission and subsequent service as the backup lunar module pilot for Apollo 17, Duke retired from NASA in 1975 to enter private business in San Antonio. He also entered the USAF Reserves, where he rose to the rank of brigadier general before retiring in 1986.
Duke has been recognized with a myriad of honors throughout his career, including the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. He has been awarded honorary doctorates from the University of South Carolina, Francis Marion College, Clemson University and the College of Charleston. In 2000, Duke was inducted into the Texas Science Hall of Fame and was recently recognized as 2020 Texan of the Year by the Texas Legislative Conference.
Today, Duke and his wife, Dorothy, live in New Braunfels, where Duke is president of Charlie Duke Enterprises, Inc., and owner of Duke Investments. Together, they serve the Lord through their ministry, Duke Ministry For Christ. They have two sons and nine grandchildren.
This is the 17th McLane Lecture sponsored by Elizabeth and Drayton McLane Jr. The purpose of the McLane Lecture is to bring outstanding individuals to the UMHB campus to share their experiences and insights about leadership, government, business and faith.