Major General Charles F. Bolden, Jr.
Deputy Commander, U.S. Forces, Japan/Yokota Air Base, Japan
Source: Headquarters Marine Corps

General Bolden is also featured in the astronauts section of this web site

Biographical Data

Major General Charles F. Bolden, Jr., currently serves as the Deputy Commander, U.S. Forces, Japan, Yokota Air Base, Japan.

Born in Columbia, S.C., Major General Bolden received a Bachelor of Science degree from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968 and later earned a Master of Science degree in systems management from the University of Southern California in 1977.

Accepting a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps following graduation from the Naval Academy, he underwent flight training at Pensacola, Fla., Meridian, Miss., and Kingsville, Texas, before being designated a naval aviator in May 1970. Between June 1972 and June 1973 he flew more than 100 combat missions into North and South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the A-6A Intruder while assigned to VMA (AW)-533 at Nam Phong, Thailand.

Upon returning to the United States, Major General Bolden began a two-year tour as a Marine Corps Officer Selection and Recruiting Officer in Los Angeles, Calif., followed by three years in various assignments at the Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro, Calif. In June 1979, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Md., and was assigned to the Naval Air Test Center's Systems Engineering and Strike Aircraft Test Directorates. While there, he served as an ordnance test pilot and flew numerous test projects in the A-6E, EA-6B and A-7C/E aircraft. Throughout his career Major General Bolden has logged more than 6,000 hours of flying time in more than thirty models of fixed and rotary wing aircraft.

Selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1980, Major General Bolden qualified as a space shuttle pilot astronaut in 1981 and subsequently flew four missions in space. During his first mission on board the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1986, he participated in the successful deployment of the SATCOM KU satellite and conducted experiments in astrophysics and materials processing.

As pilot of the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1990, Major General Bolden and crew successfully deployed the Hubble Space Telescope while orbiting the earth from a record setting altitude of 400 miles. Additionally, they also conducted extensive scientific experimentation and employed a variety of cameras, including both the IMAX in-cabin and cargo bay cameras for Earth observations.

On his third mission in 1992, he commanded the Space Shuttle Atlantis on the first Space Laboratory (SPACELAB) mission dedicated to NASA's "Mission to Planet Earth." During this nine-day mission, the crew operated the ATLAS-1 (Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science), a system composed of twelve experiments which succeeded in making a vast amount of detailed measurements of the Earth's atmospheric chemical and physical properties. Immediately following this mission, Major General Bolden was appointed Assistant Deputy Administrator for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

He held this Washington, D.C. post until assigned as commander of STS-60, the 1994 flight of a six member crew on the Space Shuttle Discovery. This landmark eight day mission was the first joint U.S./Russian Space Shuttle mission, involving the participation of a Russian Cosmonaut as a mission specialist. The crew conducted a series of joint U.S./Russian science activities and carried the Space Habitation Module-2 and the Wake Shield Facility-01 into space. Upon completion of this fourth mission, Major General Bolden left the space program having logged more than 680 hours in space.

In 1995, after successfully completing a one year tour as the Deputy Commandant of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., Major General Bolden served as the Assistant Wing Commander, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing in Miramar, Calif. In July of 1997, he was assigned as the Deputy Commanding General, I MEF, Marine Forces, Pacific. From February to June 1998, he served as Commanding General, I MEF (FWD) in support of Operation Desert Thunder in Kuwait. In July 1998 he was promoted to his current rank and he assumed his present duties as the Deputy Commander, U.S. Forces, Japan.

Major General Bolden has been awarded a number of military and NASA decorations and has received Honorary Doctorates from several distinguished universities.

Charles F. Bolden, Jr., NASA Administrator (July 17, 2009 - present)

Charles Bolden, twelfth Administrator of NASA. Nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Charles Frank Bolden, Jr., began his duties as the twelfth Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on July 17, 2009. As Administrator, he leads the NASA team and manages its resources to advance the agency's missions and goals.

Bolden's confirmation marks the beginning of his second stint with the nation's space agency. His 34-year career with the Marine Corps included 14 years as a member of NASA's Astronaut Office. After joining the office in 1980, he traveled to orbit four times aboard the space shuttle between 1986 and 1994, commanding two of the missions. His flights included deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope and the first joint U.S.-Russian shuttle mission, which featured a cosmonaut as a member of his crew. Prior to Bolden's nomination for the NASA Administrator's job, he was employed as the Chief Executive Officer of JACKandPANTHER LLC, a small business enterprise providing leadership, military and aerospace consulting, and motivational speaking.

A resident of Houston, Bolden was born Aug. 19, 1946, in Columbia, S.C. He graduated from C. A. Johnson High School in 1964 and received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. Bolden earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical science in 1968 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. After completing flight training in 1970, he became a naval aviator. Bolden flew more than 100 combat missions in North and South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, while stationed in Namphong, Thailand, from 1972-1973.

After returning to the U.S., Bolden served in a variety of positions in the Marine Corps in California and earned a master of science degree in systems management from the University of Southern California in 1977. Following graduation, he was assigned to the Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Md., and completed his training in 1979. While working at the Naval Air Test Center's Systems Engineering and Strike Aircraft Test Directorates, he tested a variety of ground attack aircraft until his selection as an astronaut candidate in 1980.

Bolden's NASA astronaut career included technical assignments as the Astronaut Office Safety Officer; Technical Assistant to the director of Flight Crew Operations; Special Assistant to the Director of the Johnson Space Center; Chief of the Safety Division at Johnson (overseeing safety efforts for the return to flight after the 1986 Challenger accident); lead astronaut for vehicle test and checkout at the Kennedy Space Center; and Assistant Deputy Administrator at NASA Headquarters. After his final space shuttle flight in 1994, he left the agency to return to active duty the operating forces in the Marine Corps as the Deputy Commandant of Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Bolden was assigned as the Deputy Commanding General of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in the Pacific in 1997. During the first half of 1998, he served as Commanding General of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Forward in support of Operation Desert Thunder in Kuwait. Bolden was promoted to his final rank of major general in July 1998 and named Deputy Commander of U.S. Forces in Japan. He later served as the Commanding General of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, Calif., from 2000 until 2002, before retiring from the Marine Corps in 2003. Bolden's many military decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in May 2006.

Bolden is married to the former Alexis (Jackie) Walker of Columbia, S.C. The couple has two children: Anthony Che, a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps who is married to the former Penelope McDougal of Sydney, Australia, and Kelly Michelle, a medical doctor now serving a fellowship in plastic surgery.


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