"It is with very deep sadness that we share the loss of our beloved husband and father,? said Cernan?s family.� ?Our family is heartbroken, of course, and we truly appreciate everyone's thoughts and prayers. Gene, as he was known by so many, was a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend.?
?Even at the age of 82, Gene was passionate about sharing his desire to see the continued human exploration of space and encouraged our nation's leaders and young people to not let him remain the last man to walk on the Moon," the family continued.
Humbled by his life experiences, particularly as an Apollo Astronaut, the retired Naval officer recently said, "I was just a young kid in America growing up with a dream. Today what's most important to me is my desire to inspire the passion in the hearts and minds of future generations of young men and women to see their own impossible dreams become a reality.?
Cernan is survived by his wife, Jan Nanna Cernan, his daughter and son-in-law, Tracy Cernan Woolie and Marion Woolie, step-daughters Kelly Nanna Taff and husband, Michael, and Danielle Nanna Ellis and nine grandchildren.
?America has lost a patriot and pioneer who helped shape our country's bold ambitions to do things that humankind had never before achieved, said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, reflecting the legacy of Cernan.
Gene first served his country as a Naval Aviator before taking the pilot's seat on the Gemini 9 mission in June 1966, where he became the second American to walk in space. As a crew member of both the Apollo 10 in May 1969 and Apollo 17 mission in December 1972, he was one of three men to have flown twice to the moon. He commanded Apollo 17 and set records that still stand for longest manned lunar landing flight, longest lunar surface extravehicular activities, largest lunar sample return, and longest time in lunar orbit. Cernan was also a backup crew member for the Gemini 12, Apollo 7 and Apollo 14 space missions.
?Gene's footprints remain on the moon, and his achievements are imprinted in our hearts and memories. Added Bolden. ?NASA Family will miss him greatly.?
Image courtesy: NASA