As a child, Jerry Ross' heroes were astronauts involved in NASA's Mercury missions.
In addition to following their path and becoming a record-setting astronaut, the Crown Point native on Saturday became connected to his heroes in another way when he and Shannon Lucid were inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. Ross and Lucid represent the 13th Hall of Fame Class.
"Being selected to the Astronaut Hall of Fame is really an honor," Ross said during the induction ceremony in the Space Shuttle Atlantis attraction at NASA's Kennedy Space Center visitor complex in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
It was a fitting location because he and Lucid each served on Atlantis, which Ross referred to as his favorite shuttle.
Hall of fame astronaut Charlie Precourt said Ross accomplished "a number of firsts and a number of records" during his space travel career.
Ross' accomplishments include becoming the first person to be launched into space seven times. He made nine spacewalks, and he was involved in the first International Space Station assembly mission.
During his outstanding career with NASA, Ross was a mentor to younger astronauts, Precourt said.
"He is a model for all of us," he said.
Ross shared many moments in his life during his induction speech.
Among them was an occasion when he "played hooky" to watch astronaut John Glenn on television.
Ross also recalled having a smile on his face while listening to a spacewalk on the radio.
He remembered his shock when he saw the Apollo-1 fire and his excitement for the other Apollo missions.
Ross said he wasn't accepted into the astronaut program the first time he applied for it, but he was elated when he was selected on his second application.
He also shared personal experiences, including the candlelight ceremony when he married his wife, Karen.
"I thank God for blessing me in so many ways," Ross said.
Ross showed his jovial personality as he mixed humor into speech.
He recalled his reaction when he was told he was selected to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.
"Man, I really am getting old," Ross said.
Ross also commended Lucid for her Hall of Fame achievement.
He said he was "delighted" be inducted with "my sister."