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July 20, 1969: My Apollo Story

By ohomen171 following x   2019 Jun 12, 5:13am 302 views   3 comments   watch   nsfw   quote     share    


#July 20, 1969I was 20 years old on that fateful day. I was a student at what is now The University of Houston Downtown Campus. I was saved from going to Vietnam on a US Navy Reserve call-up in January of 1968. I took the test for Navy Officer Candidate School. I did great on the verbal and math part. I passed the mechanical aptitude part of the test by one point. That very well could have saved my life. A call-up could have very well sent me to a patrol boat on the Mekong delta. I was a very good boat driver.
I had married at age 19. We lived in an apartment building off of Waugh Boulevard in Houston. My landlord was an MIT graduate and NASA employee named Larry Waldstrausse. He was ahead of his time. He had no problem renting to gay people. Many of our neighbors were gay. That was not an issue for me and my first wife.
On that day, my wife and I were both employed by Southwestern Bell Telephone Company. I was a first-line supervisor in the IT department. My first wife was a secretary in the public relations department.
We owned a Volkswagen bus or Combi as Europeans would say. We knew that Apollo 11 was going to attempt the moon landing this day. It stuck in our minds but did not dominate our entire lives.
We decided to take a Sunday afternoon drive to Beaumont, Texas, that was 90 miles away. As we drove east on highway 90, every radio station was covering the moon landing. As the LEM got close to the landing, we were mesmerized. We pulled into a rest area and turned off the car motor. We listened intently as Neil Armstrong guided the LEM to the surface of the moon. It all seemed so business-like and boring. Only years later, we would discover that the landing was not "a done deal" until the spacecraft actually touched down. Things didn't go as planned. Neil Armstrong was a cool-headed and brilliant pilot who literally saved the day.
We stayed at the rest area until the astronauts emerged from the LEM and Neil gave his historic words. There were no mobile devices to watch television all those years ago. We turned back toward Houston and rushed back to our apartment. We were glued to the television set watching Walter Cronkite on CBS News. We felt a profound sense of triumph. We had beat the Russians to the moon!
Early in the evening, my best friend, Ralph Wallace III, invited us to come down to the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company building a few blocks from our apartment. We arrived and went to the office of our supervisor, Charles Weaver. He had a large color television set going. (A real luxury all those decades ago!) We watched the historic phone call between President Nixon and Neil and Buzz. We were touched. We were humbled. President Nixon declared Monday 21 July, 1969, to be a national holiday. We were delighted to get an unexpected day off with pay. We were literally "on top of the world."
As we watched the president talk to Neil and Buzz, we had no idea of the fear inside NASA and The White House that the LEM rocket motor would fail to fire. Neil and Buzz would have been left on the moon forever. President Nixon even had a speech drafted in the event of this tragedy.
Now 50 years had passed. I have learned so much more about the Apollo program. Some 400,000 people worked to get man to the moon. Many sacrificed years of their lives working 7 days a week. There were many divorces and problems with substance abuse. The Saturn V rocket was and still is 50 years alter an engineering marvel with over 5,600,000 parts and systems that had to work together flawlessly to make it all happen. Thanks to the genius of Wernher von Braun and the team at the Marshal Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, the Saturn V never suffered the catastrophic failures that plagued the Soviet N-1 rocket.
On that day long ago, I was sure that the universe was opening up to us. Before long, we would be on the surface of Mars and going out from, there. The reality is a story of political miscalculations and lost opportunities.
I shall leave you with a saying that I love as follows:

"There are two types of countries in the world. Those who use the metric system and those who have walked on the moon."

On To Mars!!!!!!
1   APOCALYPSEFUCKisShostikovitch   ignore (41)   2019 Jun 12, 6:52am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

*This* is why PatNet is a daily must-read!
2   HeadSet   ignore (1)   2019 Jun 12, 7:11am   ↑ like (3)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

APOCALYPSEFUCKisShostikovitch says
*This* is why PatNet is a daily must-read!


Don't sell yourself short. I need my daily AF/HEYYOU diatribes to make me feel sane.

All kidding aside. the various collection of interesting characters, various viewpoints, humor, editorials, facts, and naughty pics make this site a must read.
3   rocketjoe79   ignore (0)   2019 Jun 12, 2:07pm   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

That Metric system quote - classic!!!

We are moving every day closer to adopting the metric system - inch by inch.

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