Bluford honored with Gold Medal from Pennsylvania Society

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A pioneering astronaut and U.S. Air Force colonel, Penn State Distinguished Alumnus Guion S. "Guy" Bluford has been awarded The Pennsylvania Society's Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement.

Bluford received the honor on Dec. 10 at the Pennsylvania Society's 113th Annual Dinner. A nonprofit charitable organization with nearly 2,000 members, the Society honors achievement and excellence and celebrates service to the Commonwealth and humanity. The Gold Medal is presented each year to a prominent person "in recognition of leadership, citizenship and contributions to the arts, science, education and industry," according to the Society.

"I feel very honored and humbled to receive [this award] from the Pennsylvania Society," Bluford said. "I take a great deal of pride in the fact that I am a Pennsylvanian, a Philadelphian and a Penn Stater."

For a video clip of some of Bluford's remarks, visit /video/153033/2013/02/08/video-no-title.

A Philadelphia native, Bluford was selected as an astronaut candidate in 1978 and in 1983 became the first African-American to travel into space. During his career with NASA, he went to space four times.

"He is a visionary scientist and engineer, a courageous leader, and a remarkable American," said Penn State President Rodney Erickson in introducing Bluford at the presentation of the Gold Medal.

For the full text of Erickson's remarks, go to http://president.psu.edu/speeches.html.

Bluford graduated from Penn State in 1964 with a B.S. in aerospace engineering and went on to serve in the Air Force, where he logged more than 5,200 hours of flight time and was a pilot during the Vietnam War. He earned a master's degree in aerospace engineering and a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering and laser physics from the Air Force Institute of Technology, and later earned an M.B.A. from the University of Houston Clear Lake.

After retiring from NASA and the Air Force in 1993, Bluford held leadership positions with multiple aerospace technology firms. He is now president and CEO of Aerospace Technology Group in Cleveland. He was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2010.

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Last Updated February 10, 2012