Ellison S. Onizuka was born June 24, 1946 in Keopu, Kona, Hawaii. Ellison was the first born son of the late Masamitsu and Mitsue Onizuka. His grandparents came from Fukuoka, Japan in the 1890s to become Hawaii farmers. Ever mindful of his ancestral roots in Japan, El visited the family tomb which stands in Takami, Ukihamachi, Fukuoka.

Ellison lived with his parents, two older sisters, Shirley and Norma, and his younger brother Claude near Holualoa, Hawaii. He attended Honokohau Elementary School and graduated from Konawaena High School. Ellison was always an achiever. In high school, he gained recognition as an Eagle Scout and as a participant in sports, National Honor Society, 4H and church activities.

Upon graduation from Konawaena High School in 1964, El went on to pursue his education at the University of Colorado at Boulder. His desire to become an aerospace engineer was encouraged by his family and friends.

Ellison married Lorna Leiko Yoshida of Pahala, Hawaii. El and Lorna have two daughters, Janelle Mitsue and Darien Lei Shizue.

El entered the Air Force as a flight test engineer in 1970. In 1978, he was chosen from more than 8,000 candidates as one of the final 35 astronaut recruits for NASA. His first space mission came in January 1985 as a payload specialist on the first Department of Defense flight, STS-51C aboard Space Shuttle Discovery.

On January 28, 1986, Ellison joined his fellow star voyagers aboard the ill-fated tenth launching of the Challenger orbiter, STS-51L. The crew of the Challenger perished in an explosion shortly after lift-off.

Ellison's widow Lorna and their two daughters reside in Houston, Texas. Lorna and Janelle both work for the National Space Development Agency of Japan. Darien is attending Texas A & M University.

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