A man who believed in his dreams and reached the stars, Ellison S. Onizuka (1946-1986) was born in Kealakekua, Kona and was Hawaii's first astronaut and the nation's first Asian American in space.
"Every generation has the obligation to free men's minds for a look at new worlds... to look out from a higher plateau than the last generation," said the humble country boy who became a Hawaiian role model and hero.
Called "El" by his family and friends, Onizuka was the grandson of farmers and first son of grocers. An eagle scout and idealist, he was chosen from over 8,000 candidates and successfully completed the 1985 Discovery mission before he and six others lost their life in the tragic 1986 Challenger explosion.
A strong advocate for education, he shared his positive quest for adventure with children throughout the state of Hawaii, "From your vantage point, your education and imagination will carry you to places which we won't believe possible... Think of the new horizons you can explore."
Today, his dream lives on with the Ellison S. Onizuka Space Center museum at Keahole Airport, and the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy at Hale Pohaku on Mauna Kea.
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