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Columbia's lost commander left a lasting image - The Galveston County Daily News : Between The Lines

November 27, 2014

Columbia's lost commander left a lasting image

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Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2013 8:00 pm | Updated: 8:07 pm, Wed Feb 27, 2013.

It's never easy to come to grips with a tragedy, but some are harder to deal with than others. One of those is the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, which occurred 10 years ago today.

Feb. 1, 2003 was a Saturday. My wife, Linda, had gotten home just before 8 a.m. from her planning shift for STS-107. The kids and I were pretty happy to see her, because it was a long flight and she had worked some odd shifts. So we didn't have the television on to watch the landing.

After a phone call from my in-laws telling us something was wrong, we turned on the TV and saw the images everybody else saw. The ones of the lights streaking across the sky.

The lights were pieces of Columbia.

The first feeling was that of disbelief. That was followed with sorrow. Then I remembered that Rick Husband was the commander of Columbia.

I was involved with the Indian Guides and Princesses program for a long time at the E.A. Smith YMCA in Webster. That year, Rick Husband was in the program, too. We weren't in the same tribe, but Guides and Princesses is a small enough group that everybody knows everybody.

One of the big activities in the program is camping. Rick had gone with us not long before the mission took too much of his time. And that is where I get my lasting image of him.

When I think of Rick, I don't think of the lights streaking across the sky, or him in his orange flight suit. The image that I like to remember is Rick sitting by a campfire and laughing.

In Guides and Princesses, we have a word that is pretty all-purpose. It's "Washtay" and it is often used for "Hi," "How are you?" or "Good job."

Rest in peace, Rick, and washtay.