ALAN SHEPARD was many things. He was a patriot, a leader, a competitor, a hero, a friend. When we seven were named America's first astronauts, Al stood out. I had first met him when we were test pilots, but not until the Mercury program did I see the determination, toughness and courage of Alan Shepard.

Remember, it was the depths of the cold war. After Sputnik, our technological superiority was questioned; we were being beaten by a country that bragged, "America will sleep under a Russian moon." But Al brought us back. He brought us back by carrying the American questing...

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