Apollo 11 Recollections #4

Written by: developer

Apollo 11 Recollections #4 A Special Treat Years Later at the National Space Symposium
I was a new Coast Guard ensign on liberty from my ship. We watched TV in my parents’ living room. My fiancée and I lounged on pillows on the floor, with my father and sisters to the left on the couch, mother behind in her chair, and kid brother working his way between us. After the moon landing, I made the four-hour drive back to the ship for morning muster. A special treat at my first National Space Symposium in early 2000s was when colleagues introduced me to their West Point classmate Buzz Aldrin. My parents are gone, siblings live elsewhere, I retired from the Coast Guard, and my fiancée and I are celebrating our 40th anniversary with three sons, their wives, and seven grandchildren. – Jim Doherty

An Extraordinary Event
Man’s landing on the moon was a very exciting moment in the Kramer household. Sandy, my husband, a space engineer at Lockheed Missile and Space Division, was sitting in our family room glued to the television and watching the landing, while I was viewing the event from our kitchen. Our newborn at that moment cried for his feeding and so I picked him up and placed him in his father’s arms to be fed. It took a while for Peter to be fed as the excitement of the landing occasionally missed Peter’s hungry mouth. As each year marks our son’s growth, so does it commemorate the extraordinary event in space history. – Elissa T. Kramer

I Can’t Remember How Much Coffee I Drank
I was a junior in high school, and “Star Trek” was my favorite TV show at the time. I had “Star Trek” posters and signed pictures all over my bedroom wall. I followed the NASA Apollo program every step of the way and remember staying up all night waiting for the lunar landing and pictures from the first step. I can’t remember how much coffee I drank to ensure I stayed awake watching our small black and white TV set and waiting for that unbelievable feat of the Apollo lunar landing, a feat not repeated again in over 40 years!!! It’s interesting because I am sure that all this played an important role in driving me into the rad hard electronic space business that I manage today at Texas Instruments. – James F. Salzman

I Knew I was Witnessing History
I was 18 years old and had driven my motorcycle up from the U.S. to Winnipeg, Canada, to pursue a love interest I had met earlier that summer. However, I timed my return so that I could be at home (and thus reliably near to TV) to watch the images from the lunar surface. The picture was so bad that I could not orient…I could not determine exactly what I was looking at. Nor could I make out those fateful first words, “One small step.” It was all pretty garbled. However, it was also very profound, and I knew I was witnessing history. I was more than a little happy that we had beaten the Russians to the moon! – John Hafnor

Proud to Be an American
I was at the Oxbow Inn in Payson, Ariz. My wife and I were with friends, eating in the dining room when Armstrong put his feet onto the lunar surface. I felt very proud as an American, especially one who had heard President Kennedy’s announcement that America chose to go to the moon by the end of the decade. I was in junior high school when he made the announcement. I have spent most of my adult life engaged in space or space-related programs in the USAF and as a contractor. It was definitely a key milestone in my life. – Arnold M. Berry

A Lifetime of Teaching and Learning
I was seven years old and living in New York City at the time. My father was in the living room watching the landing with me while explaining what was going on. His favorite subject was science and he kept telling me how important this mission was for the USA. I became wrapped up in the subject and kept asking him questions about space travel and astronomy, in particular. Finally, he took me to the library and I remember that I was checking out about 10 books each time. To this day, astronomy and space science are my favorite subjects, and although I currently have been teaching for 13 years to elementary school children, I get excited when I present my lessons about space/astronomy. I belong to a local astronomy club and serve as an Aerospace Education Member of Civil Air Patrol. – Juan Carlos Valdes

Moon, Mars and Beyond. Amen!
My family and I were in Texas City, Texas, visiting my father’s first cousin and his family at their home. The date is easy to remember because my mother’s birthday is July 21. That’s why we were in Texas City. We had vacationed in Galveston each summer since I was a child. Getting together with my cousins and our family was always a huge treat that we looked forward to for weeks before driving to the Texas Gulf Coast. It was just a hop, skip, and a jump to the Manned Spacecraft Center and Clear Lake from their home. So, we all gathered around the television – my mother and father, dad’s first cousin and his wife and their two daughters. That day had a surreal feel to it. On the one hand, we were all together as a family like we had been on many of our vacations chattering here and there about going swimming; our parents’ excitement about going to the Balinese Room for dinner and a show; a late night of talk between the three kids who only saw each other once a year. We all knew what was supposed to happen on the moon if all went according to plan. You have to remember that man had never done this. A hundred things could have gone wrong and we all knew it. I personally remember a mixture of fear and excitement. Moments before Neil Armstrong climbed down the ladder, it was as if all the air in the house was sucked out the same way a hurricane works right before it strikes. The silence was almost painful as we prayed for Neil and Buzz – each to ourselves and in our own way. When Neil hopped on to the moon no one said a word. We just sat there mesmerized for many minutes. Frankly, I don’t remember the substance of anything said when someone finally broke the ice. I was too dumbstruck to much care. I was never the same after that day. Neither was the world. The story of Apollo 11 began for me at St. Margaret Mary’s school in San Antonio, Texas. I was in the 8th grade when Alan Shepard blasted into space on a Redstone rocket with Freedom 7 riding on top. I will never forget it for two reasons. We had never had a television in a classroom – ever. The nun teaching our class rolled in a metal platform. It might as well have been the monolith from Stanley Kubrick’s “2001 – A Space Odyssey.” I don’t remember much of a lead-up to this event in school. The black and white images were grainy and hard to see, just like our television at home. That event, however, was seared into my mind and never left to this day. Since that moment on May 5, 1961, I became a junior NASA space scout following the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Shuttle, ISS and robotic missions from JPL these last 48 years. Moon, Mars and Beyond. Amen! – John Bernardoni

Recalling Other July 20 Events
Celebrating my birthday and recalling events of July 20 in previous years such as the Viking Mars Lander, the attempted assassination of Hitler, and few other less dramatic events. – Joe Freitag

Worked on the Entire Apollo Program
I was at home in Cocoa Beach, Fla., watching it on TV. I worked for Grumman Aerospace Corp. at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) for the entire Apollo program from 1965 through 1972 and participated in the launches of Apollo 9 through Apollo 17. My position at Grumman was Chief Support Engineer for the Lunar Module (LM) and I managed the Grumman LM ground systems design engineering department which was located in the Operations and Checkout (O&C) building at KSC. – Norman Neiman

The Inspiration was Important the Rest of My Life
I remember July 20th, 1969, vividly because it was the day I arrived in Pensacola, Fla., after a two-day drive from New York. I was about to begin naval flight training the next day and the image of the astronauts landing on the moon was a great inspiration. Neil Armstrong had also been a naval aviator and I had hopes of becoming an astronaut one day. Even though I did not achieve that goal, the inspiration of their achievement was important to the rest of my life, and was certainly a factor in my career in the space program from 1985 to present. – Jim Tulley

Listening Among the Redwoods
I was born in 1953. When Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, I was in our family car with my mom, dad, older sister and younger brother in Sequoia National Park among the redwoods. We pulled over to listen to the radio and hear him utter the famous words. I will never forget the awe among us not only because of the great beauty of God’s forest but because of our imaginations running wild that man had finally stepped onto the moon. What a wonderful day for mankind and a famous day in my mind. – Jeff Kaloostian

One Minute Left in This Era
My wife and I were in front of the TV with my parents and hers and cameras duly set as prescribed to the 30th of a second shutter speed most likely to reduce scanning effect from the TV screen. Like everyone we were wide-eyed waiting for the landing and deeply moved by the message that the “Eagle had landed.” In fact I found that message more memorable than the more carefully scripted, “One small step …” that followed. But of all the quotables that day, Walter Cronkite’s remark at about one minute before scheduled touchdown moved me the most. “One minute left in this era,” he said, or words to that effect. It has been a different era since, even if not as we imagined it, and I have been honored to play a role in preparing the next generation to make the difference more exciting than ever. – Michael Simpson

Cette Nuit là, la Lune m’Appartenait
En France, la nuit du 20 juillet 1969 fut une nuit magique ! Ma première nuit blanche. Avec ma famille et des amis, je tentais d’expliquer à l’aide de maquettes ce que faisaient ces deux hommes sur la Lune. Ces moments forts ont orientés va vie. 40 années plus tard, je fais la même chose, à la Cité de l’espace à Toulouse, le seul Parc à thème français dédié au spatial. Ce que je retiens de cette chaude nuit d’été fut le regard simultané de cet écran où deux fantômes blancs sautillaient sur la Lune et par la fenêtre le regard de cette Lune où deux humains travaillaient. Cette nuit là, la Lune m’appartenait. Elle ne m’a plus quitté. [Translation: In France, the night of July 20, 1969, was a magical night. My first “white night.” With my family and friends, I tried to explain with the help of models that there were two men on the moon. These amazing moments have oriented my life. Forty years later, I do the same thing at Space City in Toulouse, the only French theme park dedicated to space. What I remember of that hot summer night was the sight on the screen of two white ghosts jumping around on the moon and, at the same time, the sight through the window of the moon where two people were working. That night, the moon claimed me. She will never forsake me.] – Tezio Corteze

What a Day!
I remember it vividly as I was a NASA junkie who started my own rocket project in 5th grade. We were on vacation visiting my uncle in Chula Vista, Calif. Sitting in front of the TV, I couldn’t tell you who else was in the room besides Neil and me. Saw it in black and white, but the color was brilliant to me, a 14-year-old with ambitions of being an astronaut. What a day! – Greg Garcia

And, Lest We Forget How Long Ago This Was
I was a glint in a seven-year-old’s eye (my mommy was seven at the time). – Athena Cho

We Have All Benefitted Directly
I was ten at the time, and seeing footage of the rocket taking off and the first men on the moon was unavoidable if you watched TV at all. The three stations – ABC, CBS, and NBC – all broadcast the events almost nonstop. Of course, much of the footage was dry, showing people at computers at central command, or grainy footage of the astronauts slowly making their way around the moon’s surface. Much of it was too much to grasp for a ten-year-old boy. It was a backdrop to the lazy days of summer, spent swimming, riding the bicycle, and riding horses. Like anyone, I was advised by my teacher to watch the event, and I was impressed, but unaware of the significance of it all. I took it in stride. Later, as more landings took place, I began to wonder why they kept repeating the same flights, over and over. What were they doing up there? What is so important about a bunch of rocks? I was blissfully unaware of the scientific study going on, or the technical hurdles such an endeavor entailed. I can appreciate the accomplishments much more today. Back then, I simply assumed we would be extending our space program, with manned flights to other planets, such as Mars. I took it for granted that the journey would continue. Today, when I consider all of the benefits of that colossal effort, I am much more in awe of the missions to the moon, and the body of information that arose from them. We have all benefitted directly in some way because of them, through cell phones, PCs, cable television, medical advances, and many other contributions that have improved our standards of living. I hope that on the eve of our 40th anniversary we are prepared to continue the journey once more. It is time to colonize on the moon, and to go from there to Mars and the outer moons beyond. Space exploration and technology are human efforts that will inspire us to work together and learn more about this particular corner of the galaxy while we derive benefits that we can scarcely even imagine today. – Mark Brickhouse [NOTE: to learn more about space discoveries that make life on Earth better, click here.]

What Excitement to Watch the Landing
It was my first trip to the U.S. after completing my PhD. in France. I was invited for the month of July at UCLA by Prof. Balakrishnan. What an excitement to discover California and to have the opportunity to watch the landing from this place. I did not know in those days that much later in 1996 I would become President of CNES, the French Space Agency, and later be elected Chairman of ESA, the European Space Agency. It is a memory which will remain in my mind forever. I had much later also the honor to be introduced to Buzz Aldrin. Of course, I could not even dream of this on July 20, 1969. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to tell my little story. – Alain Bensoussan

Showing Dad I was Right
I was on active duty at Ft. Carson, Colo., with the 2nd Bn 130 FA part of the 69th Infantry BG. My wife and I were visiting at the home of a member of my section in what is now part of Fountain, Colo. We sat in the rec room and watched all of the coverage. Prior to leaving home in ’67, around the time of Sputnik ’58, I had started reading science fiction and my Dad jumped all over me for wasting my time on that junk (last word changed, what he actually used wouldn’t be printed). In typical teenage fashion I responded that before I died man would travel to the moon. Little did I realize that it would happen in his lifetime. So as I watched the TV broadcast, my thoughts from Colorado were about my father in Kansas also watching. Before his passing he sat in his living room watching activities in full color. – George Shaiffer

Fun to Tell Kids that Buzz Lightyear was Named After Buzz Aldrin
When Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins amazed the world by visiting the moon, I was 19 and living in Mexico, Mo. We stayed up to watch man’s first encounter with the moon. Even though the television was black and white and the hour was getting late, it was an unbelievable memory. Every word and movement was mesmerizing. Later, the moon rocks were brought across the country and we went to see them. I’m not sure if we understood what an important point in history for mankind we were living through, but we were excited to be able to witness what happened. Now kids of America still know who the first man on the moon was. When you ask them who Buzz Lightyear is, they know. Then it is fun to tell them that he is named after Buzz Aldrin. They always love that! Congratulations to the people who conquered the moon! – Jackie Wortmann

How Cool was That!
I was 11 years old. I was at a residential 4-H summer camp in Western Maryland. The activities were being announced over the loudspeaker and we all stopped what we were doing and listened. As we looked up at the moon it was hard to imagine that someone -a group of people – were up there. How cool was that! – Bonnie C. Brown

To read more, click here. 

Photo courtesy of NASA

This article is part of Space Watch: August 2009 (Volume: 8, Issue: 8).