There's a big wing-ding set for Friday when the nation's first-ever Navy/Veterans Affairs hospital will be named. Keeping with military and VA SOP, the name is a secret, but The Hound believes he has sniffed out who it will be named for: Astronaut James Lovell.
While the Navy, VA and Congressman Mark Kirk have been tight-lipped about the naming, we media types have been teased that the hospital will be named for "a nationally-known 10th District hero." Well, The Hound doesn't qualify in that respect, so that leaves Lovell, who was skipper of the ill-fated Apollo 13 flight documented in the 1995 movie "Apollo 13" which was based on his book. Lovell lives part-time in Lake Forest, which has a restaurant at Waukegan and Everett roads which uncannily bears his name.
Another tip on the naming could be that Gary Sinise will be on hand for a free concert after the dedication with his Lt. Dan Band. Sinise, a native of Highland Park, was in "Apollo 13". He played astronaut Ken Mattingly who helped solve the tricky technical glitches that dogged the mission, known for Lovell's tagline, "Houston, we've got a problem."
Lovell, 79, an Annapolis graduate, retired as a Navy captain after serving the nation as a test pilot and astronaut. Besides the Apollo 13 flight, his other missions included Gemini 7 and 12 and Apollo 8.
So there you have it. The Hound's betting the new $130 million expansion will be named the James Lovell Veterans Affairs Hospital. That sounds better than what his hometown, Milwaukee, did. They named a downtown street for him.