Retired Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr. is an aviator, astronaut, civil servant and graduate of the United States Naval Academy who served as a test pilot before NASA tapped him to fly the space shuttle. After logging nearly 700 hours as a shuttle pilot and mission commander, he was later ap pointed to the position of NASA administrator, making him the first African-American to lead the agency on a permanent basis. During his tenure, he oversaw NASA’s transition from shuttle missions to the advancement of innovative technologies for deep space voyages.
Bolden’s military career encompasses 34 years of service in the United States Marine Corps. He flew more than 100 combat missions in Southeast Asia and later commanded American troops in Kuwait during Operation Desert Thunder. These collective accomplishments earned him numerous accolades, including the Defense Superior Service Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
A distinguished USC trustee and alumnus of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, he is an inductee of the Astronaut Hall of Fame and the National Aviation Hall of Fame, as well as a prominent advocate for veterans’ education.