OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA — Scouts and former scouts gathered under one flag early on a Saturday morning, this flag marking Weatherford’s Troop 355 and its 50th year back in 1968.
The troop’s most famous member, retired test pilot and astronaut Tom Stafford, exercised a personal preference back in 1969, packing a few items of his choosing to take into space as he commanded Apollo X.
Stafford explains, “It was my idea because I wanted to honor the Boy Scout troop that I had been in through Junior High and High School.”
Stafford brought this flag back to earth with him and gave it to his old scout troop.
Not long after, the Weatherford troop presented the flag to Oklahoma City Boy Scout Troop 20.
Current Troop 20 Scout Master Chuck McBride found it among some old boxes when he took command.
It might have gone out with the trash in any one of the many house cleanings over the years.
McBride and other troop leaders thought the Stafford Air and Space Museum would make a better home.
“It needed to be where lots of people could see it and appreciate it,” he says. “I also thought it was time for it to come home.”
Visit the museum and you can see a startling array of artifacts and pictures.
Stafford was a crack test pilot.
He took part in three different space programs between Gemini and Soyuz.
Stooped a little now by earth’s gravity and time, he still made the effort to be here to take his old flag back as an important artifact in space travel.
Explaining the flag’s part in what still stands as a world speed record for humanity from Apollo X, Stafford boasts to the scouts, “This flag has flown faster than any scout flag in the world.”
These Oklahoma City scouts, who didn’t really know much about what they had hidden away in their troop hut, got to shake hands with the man who left the planet with it nearly fifty years ago, and who got it back after nearly fifty additional trips around the sun.
The Stafford Air and Space Museum is located at Weatherford’s municipal airport.
For more information including hours and programs go to https://staffordmuseum.org/