Kathryn Hire is Mobile Bay Area Patriot of the Year

Veterans Voices

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Retired Navy Captain and Mobile native Kathryn Hire is the Mobile Area Patriot of the Year for 2020.

(Unedited News Release)

A graduate of Murphy High School, Hire attended the U. S. Naval Academy where she graduated and received a commission in the U. S. Navy in 1981. After completing her training as a Naval Flight Officer, she flew worldwide oceanographic research missions to 25 countries aboard specially configured P-3 Orion aircraft with Oceanographic Development Squadron Eight. She later taught airborne navigation for three years to over 600 student naval flight officers.

On May 13, 1993, Hire, became the first female in the U. S. military to be assigned to a combat aircrew, when she reported to Patrol Squadron Sixty-Two. Flying aboard the P-3 maritime
patrol aircraft, she participated in Atlantic and Caribbean operations. She was recalled to active naval duty supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom as a member of U.S. Naval Central Command staff. Rising to the rank of Captain, she retired after completing 35 years of service with the U. S. Navy.

In 1989, Hire left full time naval ranks and began parallel but separate civilian and military
careers as a Space Shuttle Engineer and as a Navy Reserve Officer. Joined the NASA team, she worked as a space shuttle orbiter mechanical systems engineer, test project engineer, and supervisor of space shuttle orbiter mechanical systems and launch pad access swing arms at Kennedy Space Center. Hire processed space shuttles from landing through ground preparations and launch countdowns for more than 40 missions.

In 1995 Hire was selected as a member of Astronaut Group 15 and flew to space for the first
time as a mission specialist aboard Space Shuttle Columbia for the 16-day Spacelab Neurolab mission, STS-90 in 1998. Hire flew to space on a second mission aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour for STS-130 in 2010 to help assemble the International Space Station. Between her space flights, Hire supported missions in various roles including Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) in mission control, and management astronaut in which she helped develop procedures for commercial spacecraft carrying cargo to the International Space Station.

Captain Hire will be recognized during the commission’s Veterans Day Honors Program on
Wednesday, November 11 at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park’s Aircraft Pavilion. While
seating at this free event is limited due to current COVID-19 protective measures, it is open the general public.

Retired Navy Commander Pete Riehm will be recognized at the same event as the local “Veteran
of the Year.” Riehm served as the surface warfare officer and following his retirement was the Director of “Honor Flight South Alabama” enabling over 1,000 area World War Two veterans to visit their memorial in Washington DC.

In honor of Veterans Day, parking at the Battleship will be free. Additional information about
area Veterans Day events may be found at: https://veteransday-mobilebay.com or the Mobile
Veterans Day Facebook page.

Due to health safety concerns many of the regular events have been canceled. These include the
cancellation of the morning parade, noon luncheon, afternoon Veterans Celebration and Parade of Flags, and the evening Mobile Symphonic Pops Band concert.

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