James Arthur Lovell Jr. (born March 25, 1928) is a former NASA astronaut, Naval Aviator, and retired Navy captain. Lovell is known for being the commander of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission, which suffered a critical failure en route to the Moon but was brought back safely to Earth through the efforts of the crew and mission control. In addition to being part of the Apollo 13 crew, Lovell was the command module pilot of Apollo 8, the first Apollo mission to enter lunar orbit.
He is one of only 24 people to have flown to the Moon and the first of only three people to fly to the Moon twice as well as the only one to have flown there twice without making a landing. Lovell was the first person to fly in space four times.
Born in 1928 in Cleveland, Ohio, James Lovell was the only child of his mother Blanche, who was of Czech descent, and his father, a coal furnace salesman, who died in a car accident in 1933. For about two years, Lovell and his mother lived with a relative in Terre Haute, Indiana. After relocating with his mother to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he graduated from Juneau High School. A member of the Boy Scouts during his childhood, Lovell eventually achieved Eagle Scout, the organization's highest level. 
Lovell became interested in rocketry and built flying models as a boy. After graduating from high school, he attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison for two years under the "Flying Midshipman" program from 1946 to 1948. While at Madison, he played football and pledged to the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity.
While Lovell was attending pre-flight training in the summer of 1948, the navy was beginning to make cutbacks in the program, and cadets were under a great deal of pressure to transfer out. There were concerns that some or most of the students who graduated as Naval Aviators would not have pilot billets to fill. This threat persisted until the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950. Lovell applied and was accepted to the United States Naval Academy in the fall of 1948. During his first year he wrote a treatise on the liquid-fueled rocket engine. He attended Annapolis for the full four years, graduating as an ensign in the spring of 1952 with a B.S. degree. He then went to flight training at NAS Pensacola from October 1952 to February 1954.
In 1952, following his graduation from the Naval Academy, Lovell married his high school sweetheart, Marilyn Lillie Gerlach (born July 11, 1930), the daughter of Lillie (née Nordrum) and Carl Gerlach. The two were high-school sweethearts at Juneau High School in Milwaukee. While she was a college student, Gerlach transferred from Wisconsin State Teachers College to George Washington University in Washington D.C. so she could be near him while he was training in Annapolis.