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Dayton native gets mural nearly 50 years after his name was placed on the moon

Published: Thursday, June 27, 2019 @ 6:00 AM

Almost every time you turn around a new mural has popped up. Big, bright, bold and beautiful embellishments seem to be taking over the Gem city.

Charles Bassett II was supposed to go beyond the clouds, but fate had other plans. 

The Dayton native and former U.S. Air Force pilot never got out of orbit. 

“This is a man who died in the pursuit of space,” Bryan Stewart a community activist,  said. “The final frontier.”

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Bassett, a married 34-year-old father of two, died with fellow NASA astronaut Elliot See Jr. on Feb. 28, 1966  when the T-38 jet they were aboard struck the building housing their space capsule in St. Louis, Mo.

The pair — the second and third NASA Astronaut Corps fatalities behind Theodore C. Freeman — had been scheduled to pilot Gemini IX in 1966 and could have gone to the moon. 

>>  50 years ago, AP reported on fatal Apollo fire

Stewart partnered with The Mural Machine — a duo behind more than 100 large, public art works in the Dayton area since 2015 — on a mural that pays tribute to Bassett and Ohio’s space heritage.

Bassett’s name is memorialized on the Space Mirror Memorial in Florida and on the Fallen Astronaut memorial plaque the Apollo 15 crew placed on the moon in 1971. 

“A Daytonian’s name is on the moon,” Stewart said. “We just wanted a bigger more pronounced (memorial in Dayton).” 

Dayton native Charles Bassett II (right) is a central figure on the Dayton space mural in downtown Dayton. He died during a NASA accident in 1966. Bassett is pictured with Elliot See who also died in the jet crash.(NASA)

Nearly two years after the project was publicly announced, a space mural designed by Mural Machine owner Tiffany Clark has been installed on the side of the All Tune and Lube building at  400 E. Third Street.

The business near Warped Wing Brewery is owned by Brad Jessmer. 

 

The design includes a rendering of Bassett in his space suit and stats about Ohio’s space history. 

>> MORE: Wilberforce grad one of the ‘Hidden Figures’ who helped launch John Glenn into space

The Buckeye State is home to 25 astronauts including  BassettNancy J. Currie of Troy and Gregory H. Johnson of Fairborn.

Dayton native Charles Bassett II is a central figure on the Dayton space mural in downtown Dayton. He died during a NASA accident in 1966.

>> Why these Ohio astronauts could be coming to a wall near you 

The space mural project faced challenges, which resulted in delays. 

“The previous two (locations) fell through right before beginning for separate location or ‘approval’ reasons,” Clark told us.

Community support was there. 

About $1,500  for the space mural project was raised from the public. The National Aviation Heritage Area contributed another $1,500 for the project, Stewart and Clark said. 

Dayton native Charles Bassett II is a central figure on the Dayton space mural in downtown Dayton. He died during a NASA accident in 1966.

Mackensie Wittmer, executive director of the National Aviation Heritage Area which includes more than 15 aviation-related sites in the Dayton area, said she was proud to partner with Stewart and the Mural Machine.

“This project will celebrate Ohio’s space heritage and enrich our city,” Wittmer said in a statement provided by Stewart. 

Ohio is the home of 25 astronauts. Photo: Nasa