Virgil I. Gus Grissom Rocket Monument – Mitchell, Indiana - Atlas Obscura

Virgil I. Gus Grissom Rocket Monument

Mitchell, Indiana

This memorial to the Mercury Seven astronaut stands at the site of his former elementary school. 


Lieutenant Colonel Virgil Ivan “Gus” Grissom was a member of the Mercury Seven, the original astronauts who pioneered NASA’s space exploration program. Grissom was the second American to travel in space and the first NASA astronaut to go to space twice.

Tragically, Grissom was also the first of the Mercury Seven to perish. He died in 1967, when the interior of the Apollo 1 command module caught fire during a pre-launch trial. He, Ed White, and Roger B. Chaffee, were asphyxiated.

Prominent politicians, including President Lyndon B. Johnson, attended Grissom’s funeral. His remains were buried in Arlington National Cemetery in the plot next to Chaffee.

There are memorials to Grissom in various parts of the United States, but few are quite as close to home as this massive monument in Mitchell, Indiana. The 44-foot-tall depiction of a rocket, which was dedicated in 1981, towers over the site where his elementary school once stood. The enormous memorial also provides a detailed history of Grissom’s life.

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You can view the monument at any time.

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November 1, 2018

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