The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Col. Frederick Drew Gregory

Share on Social Media

Information about Col. Frederick Drew Gregory

Profile image of Col. Frederick Drew Gregory

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
MilitaryMakers
Occupation(s):
Federal Government Administrator
Aircraft Commander

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring, Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Cruises
Favorite Quote:
You Are Significant And You Will Contribute.

Birthplace

Born:
1/7/1941
Birth Location:
Washington, District of Columbia

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
MilitaryMakers
Occupation(s):
Federal Government Administrator
Aircraft Commander

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring, Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Cruises
Favorite Quote:
You Are Significant And You Will Contribute.

Birthplace

Born:
1/7/1941
Birth Location:
Washington
See how Col. Frederick Drew Gregory is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Federal government administrator and aircraft commander Col. Frederick Drew Gregory, Sr. was born on January 7, 1941 in Washington, D.C. to Francis and Nora Gregory. The nephew of medical pioneer Dr. Charles Drew, Gregory grew up in a tight-knit family in Washington, D.C. He developed an interest in flying as a teenager and frequently attended air shows. After graduating from Anacostia High School in 1958, Gregory briefly attended Amherst College and American University before enrolling in the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He received his B.S. degree in 1964 and later obtained his M.S. degree in information systems from George Washington University in 1977.

Upon graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy, Gregory underwent pilot training for a year before serving in Vietnam as a rescue pilot. He earned numerous military decorations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1967. Gregory returned to the United States, where he was assigned as a missile support helicopter pilot flying the UH-1F at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. In 1970, Gregory was selected for test pilot school before being loaned to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as an engineering test pilot in 1972. At the suggestion of General Benjamin Davis, the first African American general in the Air Force and a former Tuskegee Airman, Gregory applied to the astronaut training program in 1976 and was selected as one of thirty-five astronauts by NASA in 1978.

In April 1985, Gregory's first mission to space on the space shuttle Challenger launched from Kennedy Space Center. He served as the lead capsule communicator during the 1986 Challenger accident in which all seven astronauts onboard were killed. In 1989, Gregory became the first African American space commander when he commanded the mission STS-33 on board the space shuttle Discovery. With the completion of his third space mission on the space shuttle Atlantis in 1991, Gregory was appointed Associate Administrator, Office of Safety and Mission Quality at the NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. In 1993, Gregory retired as a colonel from the Air Force after logging more than 6,976 hours of flying time in over fifty types of aircraft and 550 combat missions in Vietnam. Gregory continued to work with NASA and in 2001 was promoted to NASA Deputy Administrator. After head Administrator Sean O’Keefe left NASA, Gregory served as Acting Administrator of NASA, the first African American to hold this position.

Gregory and his wife Barbara Archer have two adult children, Frederick and Heather.

Col. Frederick Gregory was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 27, 2007.

See how Col. Frederick Drew Gregory is related to other HistoryMakers
Loading...
Click Here To Explore The Archive Today!
  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Col. Frederick Drew Gregory's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory remembers his maternal uncle, Dr. Charles R. Drew
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory talks about his maternal relatives
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory remembers his community in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory describes his earliest childhood memories, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory describes his earliest childhood memories, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory describes the Southeast neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory remembers U Street in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory describes his early influences
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory recalls school desegregation in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory describes his high school experiences
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory describes his aspiration to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory recalls his nomination to the U.S. Air Force Academy
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory recalls his experiences of discrimination in the South
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory talks about his wife
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory recalls his start at the U.S. Air Force Academy
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory talks about race relations at the U.S. Air Force Academy
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory describes his education at the U.S. Air Force Academy
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory remembers the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory recalls the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory recalls his aspiration to become a U.S. military pilot
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory remembers his pilot training
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory remembers serving in the Vietnam War, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory remembers serving in the Vietnam War, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory recalls returning from the Vietnam War
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory reflects upon his U.S. military service in the Vietnam War
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory recalls his transition to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory remembers becoming an astronaut
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory reflects upon his career as an astronaut
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory recalls meeting the Apollo 11 astronauts
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory talks about his media recognition as an astronaut
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory remembers the Challenger disaster
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory recalls the aftermath of the Challenger disaster
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory talks about his experiences of spaceflight
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory remembers visiting Madagascar
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory talks about researching his ancestry in Madagascar
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory remembers commanding space shuttle missions
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory describes the physical sensation of spaceflight
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory remembers his retirement from NASA
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory recalls his acquaintances with U.S. presidents
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Col. Frederick Drew Gregory shares a message to future generations