The Man Called “America’s No. 1 Spaceman” Was From Michigan
“America’s No. 1 Spaceman” - Iven Kincheloe, Jr. - gained fame & notoriety as a test pilot, fought in the Korean war, and was recipient of the Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross. He was born in Detroit, Michigan but grew up in Cassopolis.
After graduating high school, Kincheloe entered the Air Force, becoming a test pilot; it didn't take long until he was promoted to First Lieutenant. During the Korean War in 1951, he flew 131 missions, becoming an ace and earning the Silver Star.
By 1952, he was a captain.
After the war, he returned to being a test pilot, participating in the testing of fighter aircraft. On September 7, 1956, Kincheloe flew a craft at more than 2,000 mph at a height of 126,200 feet, becoming the first person to fly above 100,000 feet. For this achievement, he was therefore called “America’s No. 1 Spaceman”.
At the age of 30, on July 26, 1958, he was killed in the crash of an F-104A at Edwards Air Force base and was buried with full honors in Arlington Cemetery.
Cassopolis would've liked to have him rest with them, but since being buried in Arlington is an extreme honor, the town conceived their own memorial to their favorite son. The Kincheloe Memorial Park is located at the intersection of M-60 and Decatur Road in Cassopolis.
If you are not familiar with this Michigander, you really should take a look at the video below, past the photo gallery. It will inform you much better than I can.