Edward Higgins White II was born on November 14, 1930 in San Antonio, Texas. He graduated with the United States Military Academy Class of 1952 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. He was a fighter pilot and test pilot, and on September 17, 1962 was selected as a member of NASA Astronaut Group 2, the “New Nine”.
In the early days of the Space Race, NASA had been upstaged by our Soviet enemies regularly, including the first ever “extra-vehicular activity” – an EVA or “spacewalk” – by cosmonaut Alexey Leonov on March 18, 1965. NASA hadn’t planned to do an EVA for some time, but it then became a priority. The next flight – Gemini 4 – would feature the first free man walking in space. It would be Ed White.