Card, Membership, “Interstellar Association of Turtles"

Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

This membership card for the "Interstellar Association of Turtles" was a space-aged update of an older military inside joke. The "Honorable Order of Turtles" began as a drinking group created by World War II pilots. The point was humor and camaraderie: the members needed to know the answers to riddles that seemed crude but were actually tame. And, most important, any member who was asked, “Are you a Turtle?” needed to offer, loudly, a prescribed answer that was inappropriate in formal situations. If the fellow Turtle failed to answer, he (and this was exclusively a men’s group) owed the asker a drink. Of course, the joke was to try to catch other members in situations where they could not reply (in mixed company or with higher-ranking officers), leading to a treated beverage and a good laugh later. This card illustrates the esprit de corps of the astronauts, and has a particular spaceflight bent, renaming the Order as the “Interstellar Association of Turtles.” It is signed by astronaut Wally Schirra, and pilot and TRW employee Dr. Gerry Morton.

The card was installed in the Museum's "Apollo to the Moon" exhibit in 1976 and later became a part of the Museum's formal artifact collection.