Eugene Francis ‘Gene’ Kranz was born August 17, 1933, in Toledo, Ohio. He would graduate from Saint Louis University in 1954; the next year he received a commission in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. He would later work for McDonnell Aircraft Corporation; for much of the time, he worked at the U.S. Air Force research center on Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Kranz then joined NASA; he would soon be a Mission Control procedures officer for Project Mercury Control at Cape Canaveral, Florida. He worked on all Mercury flights.

In 1962, Kranz was promoted to assistant flight director; he filled this role for the rest of the Mercury Program as well as for the first three Gemini missions. He would then serve as a flight director for the rest of the Gemini flights; he served in this role for Apollo missions 7 and 9, in 1968 and 1969, respectively. On July 20 of that year, he was a flight director for Apollo 11 the first landing on the surface of the moon.

Eugene Kranz is best known as the lead flight director in the Apollo 13 mission. He was on duty when its Service Module exploded en route to the moon; he, his team, and the astronauts that they helped to bring home safely would all receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Kranz retired as flight director after Apollo 17. He would next serve as Deputy Director for NASA’s Mission Operations. In 1983, he was promoted to Director; he retired from NASA in 1994. He is married to Marta, his wife of fifty years; they have six children and many grandchildren.