Left to right: Congressman Ray LaHood of Peoria, Capt. Eugene Cernan of Bellwood, and Gov. George Ryan of Kankakee.
Born in Chicago and raised in the suburb of Bellwood, Captain Cernan began his service to the United States as a Navy ROTC student. Upon graduating from college, Captain Cernan began active duty in USN where he soon earned his wings and became an attack pilot. In 1963, he was accepted into the astronaut program at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Captain Cernan participated in three separate NASA flights. He was the second American to walk in space in the 1966 Gemini 9 mission. During the 1969 Apollo 10 mission, Cernan descended within 10 miles of the lunar surface. In December 1972, he landed on the moon as the commander of Apollo 17. After the Apollo 17 mission, Cernan became involved with the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, a joint U.S. and Soviet Union venture. In 1976, Cernan resigned from NASA and the Navy to join Coral Petroleum, Inc. as executive vice-president. He left Coral Petroleum to become president of the Cernan Corporation; a space-related technology and marketing consulting firm. Today, he serves as an executive consultant to SpaceHab, which has responsibilities to the Space Shuttle, International Space Station and future space programs.