2020 Texan of the Year

Apollo 16 Astronaut, Brigadier General Charles Duke named 2020 TEXAN OF THE YEAR by Texas Legislative Conference 

Charles Duke headshotApollo 16 Astronaut and retired U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Charles Duke was named the 2020 Texan of the Year by the Texas Legislative Conference, the well-known annual statewide policy and business forum that is marking its 54th year in 2020. The event honoring Duke was held at Space Center Houston, the Official Visitor Center of NASA Johnson Space Center.

The Texas Legislative Conference is a nonpartisan organization of Texas business and political leaders who meet annually in New Braunfels to focus on public policy issues. 2020 topics included Census 2020: Impacts on Future Elections and Funding; The Role of Science in our Economy; Future Infrastructure Solutions for Texas.

Duke was honored September 3 at the New Braunfels Civic/Convention Center, joining an array of prominent past honorees since 1974 including presidents, U.S. senators, entertainers, governors, and business icons.

According to Conference Chair E. Ray Covey of AEP Texas, “General Duke is one of a mere dozen humans to have ever walked on the surface of the Moon and looked back toward Earth. His perspectives are unique and his efforts have paved the way for tremendous advancements in science and technology that we all enjoy today.”

"General Duke is a pioneer, who embodies the spirit of ingenuity and discovery,” said William T. Harris, president and CEO of the science and space exploration learning center Space Center Houston. “He continues to be an inspiration to future generations as we move forward in pursuit of new ideas and advancements in human space exploration to further humanity with NASA’s plans to send humans to the Moon and Mars.”

Duke was one of 19 astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966. He served as CAPCOM for Apollo 11, becoming the voice of Mission Control heard by the world when he answered Neil Armstrong’s famous “the Eagle has landed.”

Duke served as lunar module pilot of Apollo 16, April 16-27, 1972. He was accompanied on the fifth manned lunar mission by John W. Young (spacecraft commander) and Thomas K. Mattingly II (command module pilot). Apollo 16 was the first scientific expedition to inspect, survey and sample materials and surface features in the Descartes region of the rugged lunar highlands. Duke is the youngest and one of only 12 people who have walked on the moon.

A South Carolina native, but Texan by choice, Duke has called Texas home since 1975. He and his wife Dorothy have co-authored the book Moonwalker, published by Olson Nelson Publishers in 1990. A U.S. Naval Academy graduate, Duke served as fighter interceptor pilot with the 526th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Ramstein Air Base. He received his master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.