Attended the United States Naval Academy and graduated with honors in 1952.
Attended the Experimental Flight Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base where he graduated first in his class in 1959. After graduation, he served at the school as an instructor and co-authored two flight test manuals.
Was one of only nine selected for the second group of NASA astronauts in 1962.
Served as pilot on Gemini 6, where he teamed with Wally Schirra (enshrined 1986). Gemini 6 performed the world’s first rendezvous in space as they orbited within a few feet of James Lovell (enshrined 1998) and Frank Borman (enshrined 1982) in their Gemini 7 spacecraft.
Selected as Commander of Gemini 9, with Gene Cernan (enshrined 2000) as pilot. The purpose of the mission was to perform three different types of rendezvous, one of which would become a standard model for the Apollo missions.
Served as Commander of Apollo 10. The purpose of this mission was to test every aspect of the Lunar Module, with the exception of an actual lunar landing. Upon re-entry, Stafford and his crew reached the highest speed ever achieved by man at 28,547 miles per hour. This feat earned them a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the world’s all-time speed record.
Served as Chief of the astronaut office and was responsible for the selection of Apollo and Skylab crews. He later became Deputy Director of Flight Crew Operations under Donald “Deke” Slayton (enshrined 1996) in 1971.
Commanded the American half of the first joint space mission between the United States and the Soviet Union- the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.
Assumed command of the Air Force Flight Test Center in 1975.
Awarded the Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross, NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 1992.