James Benson Irwin, a Colonel in the United States Air Force (Retired), was born on March 17, 1930 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He led expeditions to search for Noah’s ark on Mt. Ararat, Turkey in 1982-83. He was a member of the Air Force Association and the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and served as backup Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 12.
Irwin died on August 8, 1991 when he suffered a heart attack in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
- Lunar Module Pilot, Apollo 15, July 26-August 7, 1971. First use of the Lunar Roving Vehicle.
Total Hours in Space: 295+, 19+ EVA hours
Astronaut Group: 5-April 4, 1966
Degrees: BS, Naval Science, US Naval Academy, 1951, MS, Aeronautical Engineering and Instrumentation Engineering, University of Michigan, 1957. Awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Astronautical Science from the University of Michigan in 1971, an Honorary Doctorate of Science from William Jewell College in 1971, and an Honorary Doctorate from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1972.
Military Service & Awards: He served in Korea and Vietnam. Recipient of the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal and Command Pilot Astronaut Wings, two Air Force Commendation Medals for service with the Air Force Systems Command and the Air Defense Command, and an Outstanding Unit Citation while a member of the 4750th Training Wing; also awarded the City of New York Gold Medal (1971), the United Nations Peace Medal in 1971, the City of Chicago Gold Medal (1971), the Air Force Association’s David C. Schilling Trophy (1971), the 1971 Kitty Hawk Memorial Award, the AIAA Haley Astronautics Award for 1972, the Arnold Air Society’s 1972 John F. Kennedy Trophy, the Robert J. Collier Trophy for 1971, Belgium’s Order of Leopold (1971), and the New York Police Department St. George Association’s Golden Rule Award in 1972, the Christian Service Award, and the Milan Hulbert Trophy of SWAP International (1973).
Interred at Arlington National Cemetery: August 15, 1991
How to locate: From the Memorial Amphitheater walk South on Memorial Drive, turn right on Porter Drive, then left on McPherson Drive and left onto McKinley Drive. The roadway curves around a rectangular-shaped grassy area. Turn to the left, then right, around the grassy area. When you see a large black McGee headstone to your left just before the intersection with Miles Drive, turn right to continue on McKinley and stop after a few feet. Your back will be to the Air Force memorial in the distance. The Irwin headstone is in the first row, to the left of the Eisele gravesite.