US Navy Captain Dale Gardner (Courtesy of NASA)

Rep. McCombie’s HJR 58 designates the Savanna-Sabula bridge as the “Dale Gardner Veterans Memorial Bridge”

RiverReader.org staff

SPRINGFIELD — House Joint Resolution 58 designating the Savanna-Sabula bridge as the “Dale Gardner Veterans Memorial Bridge” sponsored by 71st State Representative Tony McCombie, Savanna, was unanimously adopted by the Illinois House of Representatives.

“HJR 58 gives much deserved recognition to the service and accomplishments of US Navy Captain Dale Gardner and the veterans who dedicated their lives to this country,” said McCombie. “Through this resolution, their accomplishments will live on.”

Dale Gardner was the valedictorian of Savanna Community High School class of 1966, and earned a Bachelor of Science and Engineering from the University of Illinois in 1970 with a 5.0 GPA.

After graduation he joined the US Navy where he earned his Naval Flight Wings and rose to the Rank of Captain. In 1978, NASA selected Captain Gardner to be an astronaut where he logged 337 hours in space, and orbited the earth 225 times.

Before passing away on Feb. 19, 2014, at the age of 65, he earned numerous awards and medals for his service and accomplishments.

The new Dale Gardner Veterans Memorial Bridge is scheduled to open in 2018 and costs $80 million. It will replace the outdated and functionally obsolete 20 foot wide, half mile long Savanna-Sabula Bridge which opened over 85 years ago.

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HJR 58 was an initiative of Dale Gardner’s classmates from Savanna High School to name the new bridge spanning the Mississippi River connecting Savanna and Sabula, Iowa.

Click here to read the full resolution.

In the feature photo above, Gardner holds up a “For Sale” sign after Palapa B-2 and WESTAR VI were recovered during STS-51-A, the 14th flight of the Shuttle program, launched on Nov. 8, 1984 (Gardner’s birthday).

The crew aboard Space Shuttle Discovery included Frederick Hauck (Spacecraft Commander), David Walker (Pilot), and fellow Mission Specialists Joseph Allen and Anna Fisher. This was the second flight of Discovery.

During this mission the crew deployed two satellites, Canada’s Anik D-2 (TELESAT-H) and the Hughes’ LEASAT-1 (Syncom IV-1), now in service with the U.S. Navy.

In a dramatic salvage effort, they also rendezvoused with and returned from space two satellites previously launched into improper orbits, the Indonesian Palapa B-2 and the Western Union Westar VI communication satellites.

Gardner and Allen completed two space walks totaling 12 hours and flew the Manned Maneuvering Unit backpack during the salvage operation. STS-51-A completed 127 orbits of the Earth before landing at the Kennedy Space Center on Nov. 16, 1984.
(Courtesy of NASA)

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