Ron Garan is a NASA astronaut and a former USAF Second Lieutenant. He was born Ronald John Garan, Jr., of Russian decent, on October 30, 1961 in Yonkers, New York. He graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1979 and then graduated from the State University of New York College at Oneonta with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Economics in 1982. Two years later, Garan was commissioned by the United States Air Force. He then went to Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance AFB in Oklahoma and earned his pilot wings in 1985. After he finished more training at Luke AFB in Arizona, he reported to Hahn Air Base in Germany to serve as an F-16 pilot in the 496th Tactical Fighter Squadron. In March 1988, he was reassigned to the 17th TFS at Shaw AFB in South Carolina to serve not only as an F-16 pilot, but also as an instructor and evaluator pilot. During this assignment, he attended the USAF Fighter Weapons School and became a Squadron Weapons Officer after he graduated.
In August 1990, Garan was deployed for the first time. He flew combat missions in Southwest Asia in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm for seven months. When he returned to the States, he was reassigned to the USAF Weapons School to be an F-16 Weapons School Instructor Pilot, a Flight Commander, and an Assistant Operations Officer. During this time, Garan furthered his education at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, where he earned a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Science in 1994. That same year, he was reassigned to the 39th Flight Test Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida as a developmental test pilot and an F-16 pilot. Again, he went back to school and earned another Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering, this time from the University of Florida in 1996. The next year he attended the US Naval Test Pilot School at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland. After his graduation in December 1997, he was reassigned to the 39th FTS back at Eglin AFB to serve as the Director of the Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile Combined Test Force.
In July 2000, Garan was chosen to be a NASA pilot and reported for training the following month. After his two years of training and evaluation, he worked in the Astronaut Office Station and Shuttle Operations Branches. In April 2006 he served as an aquanaut in the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations-9 mission, which developed lunar surface exploration procedures as well as technical applications in support of the United States’ Vision for Space Exploration. Garan’s first flight to space was aboard Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-124. The mission launched from the Kennedy Space Center on May 31, 2008 and docked with the International Space Station on June 2 to deliver the Japanese Experiment Module Pressurized Module and the Japanese Remote Manipulator System. They also moved the Logistics Module to the top of the JEM-PM. After three spacewalks and 218 orbits of the Earth, the mission ended on June 14, 2008. A year later, on June 1, 2009, Garan retired from the Air Force.
On April 4, 2011, Garan launched aboard the Soyuz TMA-21 as a member of Expedition 27. He spent six months at the ISS before coming back to Earth on September 16. Throughout his career, he has received many honors and awards, including the Distinguished Flying Cross for Combat Valor, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor, National Defense Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Award, Kuwait Liberation Medal, NASA Superior Accomplishment Award, NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, and an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the State University of New York. Garan is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, Engineers Without Borders, the Founder of the Manna Energy Foundation, and the founder of the Fragile Oasis project. Along with being an astronaut, a husband, and a father of three, Garan teaches Roman Catholic Sunday School classes to children.
Image Caption: Official portrait image of NASA astronaut Ronald J. Garan, a mission specialist of STS-124. Credit: NASA/Wikipedia