The first enrolled member of a Native American tribe to fly in space

From Wetumka, Oklahoma, to the final frontier, John Herrington has been everywhere. John grew up to be a U.S. Naval Aviator and an astronaut for NASA. He became the first enrolled member of a Native American tribe to fly in space. From small beginnings he went on to conquer formations on Earth and then braved the solitude of space. Very proud of his background, John carried the Chickasaw Nation flag on his thirteen-day trip in space. Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby specially presented the flag to Herrington for his flight.

Born in 1958, Herrington's coming-of-age story happened during the golden years of space exploration. This formed his desire to venture into space and be a part of something special. He earned his bachelor's degree in applied mathematics from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs in 1983. He then received his commission into the U.S. Navy in 1984. After excelling in the Navy, Herrington reported to the Johnson Space Center in August of 1996. There he completed two years of training and evaluation before being qualified for flight assignment as a mission specialist. His voyage began on November 23, 2002, to deliver a new crew to the International Space Station. Herrington retired from the Navy and NASA in July 2005.

After retiring, John began to work hard elsewhere. In 2008, he took part in a cross-country bicycle ride from Cape Flattery, Washington, to Cape Canaveral, Florida. Now he spends much of his free time serving as a motivational speaker to young people, encouraging them to continue their pursuit of excellence in education. He is a proud member of the Chickasaw Nation, and is glad to share his story and his tribal background with anyone and everyone who will listen.


  • Navy Commendation Medal
  • Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
  • Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation
  • Coast Guard Special Operations Service Ribbon
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Sea Service Deployment Ribbons
  • Inducted into the Chickasaw Hall of Fame in 2002