April 28, 1983

>The President today announced the designation of Rhea Seddon of Murfreesboro, Tenn., to represent the United States at the annual Australia-America Friendship Week celebrations in Australia, May 1 to May 8, 1983. Dr. Seddon will be accompanied on her trip by her husband, astronaut Robert L. Gibson. The party will be guests of honor at celebrations sponsored by the Australian-American Association in the cities of Sydney, Melbourne, and Canberra.

Australia-American Friendship Week celebrates the close friendship and alliance between the Australian and American peoples forged on the Pacific battlefields of World War II and in Korea and Vietnam. It particularly commemorates the Battle of the Coral Sea, May 7 - 8, 1942, during which American and Australian naval and air forces effectively blocked a Japanese attempt to seize Port Moresby in New Guinea and thereby threaten northeastern Australia.

Dr. Seddon was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in January 1978. In August 1979 she completed a 1-year training and evaluation period making her eligible for assignment as a mission specialist on future space shuttle flight crews. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley (B.A., 1970) and the University of Tennessee (M.D., 1973). After medical school, Dr. Seddon completed a surgical internship and 3 years of a general surgery residency in Memphis, with a particular interest in surgical nutrition. She was born November 8, 1947, in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Among the distinguished Americans who have attended Australia-America Friendship celebrations in past years are Vice President George Bush, businessman Joseph Coors, astronauts Walter Cunningham, John Swigert, and Harrison Schmitt, and then-Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Caspar Weinberger.