Sunday, June 28, 2009

Carthage Press' Hacker interviews Janet Kavandi

Even on vacation, Carthage Press reporter John Hacker keeps working. The Sunday edition of the newspaper features Hacker's interview with Carthage Senior High School and Missouri Southern graduate and NASA astronaut Dr. Janet Kavandi, an interview conducted whlie Hacker was on vacation in Houston, Texas.

Most affecting in the story is Dr. Kavandi's references to the astronauts who died in the Columbia space shuttle on Feb 1, 2003:

“I became the lead casualty and assistance calls officer,” Kavandi said. “That’s a military term and it’s a person who takes care of the families of the fallen soldiers, or in this case, astronauts. I led the team that took care of the families of the Columbia astronauts.”
Kavandi said the job was complicated, but it was a labor of love.
“The loss of one is like a family member lost rather than just an associate lost and it’s so visible, so helping the families keep privacy is important,” she said. “We helped them decide what memorials and services they wanted to attend and so on, and what they felt was appropriate. Plus there the visits with the President of the United States, it included everything from visiting Arlington, to presidential visits to their own private ceremonies.
“Just dealing with the publicity and the aftermath and the investigation was huge. We still to this day, we keep close contact with most of the members and they’re doing well. They’re moving on but it took some considerable time, it was a very traumatic event.”

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