College mourns loss of astronaut, alumnus
One of the college’s best known graduates, Poindexter, 50, completed two space shuttle missions – Atlantis in 2008 and Discovery in 2010. He retired from NASA shortly after his final mission and was serving as dean of students and executive director of programs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. at the time of his death.
At the time of the accident, Poindexter, his wife, Lisa and their two sons, Samuel, 22, and Zachary, 26, were visiting Lisa’s parents, Ron and Carolyn Pfeiffer of Gulf Breeze.
According to news reports and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, Poindexter and his younger son were on one personal watercraft sitting still in the water when the older son, apparently unaware that they had stopped, collided with them on another jet ski. The impact threw Poindexter and his son from the watercraft. He was taken to shore and transported by LifeFlight helicopter to Baptist Hospital where he later died from his injuries.
After Poindexter’s first shuttle mission, he returned to Pensacola State and presented a specially-minted PJC medallion he carried into space.
Photos by Danica Spears/The Corsair
The Corsair staff remembers Dex
MICHAEL RUTSCHKY GREEAR
For me, it was incredibly important and inspirational to know that someone who had gone through PSC’s (then PJC’s) program went on to become an astronaut. I thought if he could be an astronaut and ride rocket explosions into the vacuum of space, surely I could grow up and find work as a writer.
I also remember that covering the STS-122 launch (or lack thereof) from the NASA press center was a huge opportunity for me and our group of Corsair reporters, and in retrospect it was probably the most amazing thing I did the whole time I was in college. It was a tremendous honor to cover his mission and then to meet him later and follow up on it at WSRE, and its incredibly sad to think that his story has ended this way.
My heart goes out to his family. I’ll continue to hang his autographed picture on my wall with pride and find inspiration in his bravery.
Mr. Poindexter is a hero to Pensacola State College and the City of Pensacola.
He was kind enough to welcome the Corsair to the launch of STS-122 in 2007. While his launch was delayed during out visit, Poindexter gave us the opportunity to explore NASA’s Cape Canaveral facilities inside and out. We received the honor of his and NASA’s invite, and that alone is worth noting at Mr. Poindexter’s death.
An astronaut plays an important role in a nation’s story. I am blessed to have met and participated in Mr. Poindexter’s life and contributions to our nation.
Rest in peace Mr. Poindexter.
Genuine. Passionate. Outgoing. Those are the words that I think best describe Alan Poindexter.
I was blessed to meet a man who honestly lived his life to the fullest and more.
The first time I talked to him was during an over-the-phone interview, and even then I could tell he was a down-to-earth kind of person. Just because he was an astronaut, and got to see the stars from a front-row view, didn’t make him a better person than me or you. He was the kind of person who would be excited to tell you all about his missions in space and that if you wanted to do the same thing, it’s a lot of hard work and determination but definitely possible.
I remember the first time I saw him during the astronaut walk in his bright orange suit. He had the biggest smile on his face. You could tell he loved his job and was one of the lucky ones in the world to love what he did for a living.
When I met him in person for the first time I was so nervous, but once I started talking to him it didn’t take me long to feel comfortable. It was like he was on the same level as me. He wasn’t boastful, and he didn’t me feel like a little college student because he remembered what it was like to go through school trying to get where you want to go in life.
Even though he was old enough to be my dad, he was still young enough to feel like a best friend. I will never forget him…
Video of STS-122 and STS-131