John L. "Jack" Swigert Jr., was born on August 30, 1931, in Denver, Colorado. He attended the University of Colorado, where he played varsity football and earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering. He served with the Air Force as a combat pilot in Korea and then became a test pilot. After earning a master of science degree in aerospace science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a master of business administration degree from Hartford College, he was accepted into the NASA Apollo program.
Swigert was one of three astronauts aboard the Apollo 13 moon mission, which was launched on April 11, 1970. The third lunar landing attempt, the mission was aborted after the rupture of an oxygen tank on the spacecraft's service module. Swigert and fellow astronauts James A. Lovell Jr., and Fred W. Haise Jr., returned safely to earth on April 17 after approximately 5 days and 23 hours in space.
He later became staff director of the Committee on Science and Technology of the U.S. House of Representatives. Elected to Colorado's newly created Sixth Congressional District in 1982, he died on December 27, 1982, before taking office.