2013 Ponaganset Distinguished Alumni Award Winner Profile

 Sherwood “Woody” Spring – Class of 1963

 Retired United States Army Colonel and Former NASA Astronaut 

 Woody grew up in Harmony, RI with 2 brothers and 1 sister.   Upon graduation from Ponaganset Junior Senior High School in 1963 he received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.   In 1967 he received a Bachelor of Science Degree in General Engineering and rank of 2nd Lieutenant.   He served two tours of duty in Vietnam – first with the 101st Airborne Division as a 1st Lieutenant and the second as a Captain and helicopter pilot with the 1st Cavalry Division.   

 After Vietnam he earned a Master’s Degree from the University of Arizona in 1974 while also receiving fixed wing training and being promoted to Major.   

 Woody attended the US Naval Test Pilot School and returned to the Army’s Flight Test Facility at Edwards Air Force Base as a test pilot.

 In May 1980, Lt. Colonel Spring was selected as an astronaut and trained as an EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity) expert. He served as a mission specialist on Shuttle 61-B on the Shuttle Atlantis in 1985. Of the 165 hours in space, Woody spent over 12 hours at the end of tether working in space during two EVAs. Woody was promoted to Colonel after his Shuttle mission. For the next two years, Woody led the Astronaut Office EVA program until his retirement from NASA in 1988.

 For the next five years, Woody directed the Army Space Program Office in Washington. Colonel Spring retired from the Army in 1994.  He is currently a professor at the Defense Acquisition University in San Diego, CA – where he lives with his wife, Debbie. They have two children.  Their daughter, Sarah, is an Army Captain and pediatrician and their son, Justin is a United States Olympian as a member of the Bronze Medal winning gymnastics team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. 

 US Army Colonel (retired), former Astronaut and Ponaganset Alumnus Woody Spring has received numerous awards and honors, including but not limited to: 

 Member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, Association of the United States Army, Association of Space Explorers (ASE), and a lifetime member of the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy, Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, 2 Bronze Stars, Meritorious Service Medal, 3 Army Commendation Medals, 9 Air Medals, a Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medals, and NASA Space Flight Medal. Recipient in 1986 of two honorary doctorate degrees: Doctor of Science, and Doctor of Humane Letters.

 Congratulations to Woody as the 2013 (and first) recipient of the Ponaganset High School Distinguished Alumni Award.

 (Information was drawn by permission from Woody’s Wikipedia page)


Below are links and files with Information About Woody's Accomplishments

The table below contains links to videos and presentations.


Woody Spring’s NASA Space Flight – 18 min Movie Narrated by Woody – 1963 PHS Graduate

Link to an 18 minute MP4 Movie with footage of Woody Spring’s space flight on Mission 61-B and his spacewalk. The film includes video of the training he and his crew received in preparation for the flight. A rare insight into a manned spaceflight from a graduate of Ponaganset High School.


NASA Space Shuttle Mission 61-B – PPT Presentation Detailing Activities of Woody Spring’s Space Flight

Link to a PowerPoint presentation that includes 60+ pictures and slides with an accompanying narrative outline that explains the significance of the slide. This presentation details the activities of Woody Spring and the crew of Mission 61-b.

Rarely Seen Space Shuttle Footage - PPT Presentation


Link to a PowerPoint presentation that includes 30+ pictures rarely seen by the public of the Pre-flight shuttle preparation process. Including pictures of the preparation of the external tank, attachment of the shuttle to the boosters, etc.

Space Shuttle Mission 61-B Atlantis – EVA Picture

Link to a picture of Woody Spring completes a space walk as part of Atlantis Mission 61-b

Space Shuttle Mission 61-B Atlantis – Flight Crew Picture

Link to a picture of the flight crew of Atlantis Mission 61-b

Discovery Launch – Movie Clip

Link to a 2 minute MP4 movie clip of a Space Shuttle Discovery Launch

Discovery Landing – Movie Clip

Link to a 2 minute MP4 movie clip of a Space Shuttle Discovery Landing

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