Tuesday, June 11, 2013

American Greatness

Recently I had the opportunity to again see the film Apollo 13. This film moved me greatly the first time I saw it. Made me very proud to be an American. Now, with everything going on in this country, watching it again left me with a profound sadness.

Nevertheless, I look back and remember the greatness of this country. Specifically the men of Apollo 11, the first to land on the moon and the men of Apollo 13, who brought their crippled spacecraft home from lunar orbit.

Commander Neil A. Armstrong
Command Module Pilot Michael Collins
Lunar Module Pilot Edwin "Buzz" E. Aldrin, Jr.

Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that landed the first humans on the Moon, Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on July 20, 1969, at 20:18 UTC. Armstrong became the first to step onto the lunar surface 6 hours later on July 21 at 02:56 UTC. Armstrong spent about two and a half hours outside the spacecraft, Aldrin slightly less; and together they collected 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of lunar material for return to Earth. A third member of the mission, Michael Collins, piloted the command spacecraft alone in lunar orbit until Armstrong and Aldrin returned to it just under a day later for the trip back to Earth.

Edwin "Buzz" E. Aldrin, Jr.
Michael Collins
Neil A. Armstrong
Commander James A. Lovell, Jr.
Command Module Pilot John "Jack" L. Swigert
Lunar Module Pilot Fred W. Haise, Jr.

Apollo 13 was the seventh manned mission in the American Apollo space program and the third intended to land on the Moon. The craft was launched on April 11, 1970, at 13:13 CST from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later, crippling the service module upon which the Command Module depended. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, and the critical need to jury-rig the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely to Earth on April 17.

Fred W. Haise, Jr.
John "Jack" L. Swigert
James A. Lovell, Jr.
Here's to all of the men and women of the American space program of those days. Those who flew, those who built and those who supported. I pray that someday we'll see their like again.


  1. I kept a scrap book of all the space flights in the early days. I couldn't get enough of it, thanks .

    1. Two things I loved as a kid: dinosaurs and the space program. Couldn't get enough of either!

  2. In the Navy, we've used "Apollo 13" as the adjective for any type of program or project requiring a big effort over a short time period needed a bunch of folks from different agencies/commands/skillsets to help solve. None of them are nearly as important or dramatic as what happened that April, 40+ years ago, but I guess we're paying homage to what those Astronauts and NASA went through.

    1. Yes, indeed. And I like the use of "Apollo 13" to characterize that sort of effort.

  3. Thank you. I just spent the last two hours reading all kinds of things on Apollo and every diversion down those lanes that wikipedia has to offer. I appreciate it very much.

    Here's to them all!

  4. I remember watching the Apollo 11 moon landing on a teeny-tiny B&W teevee in a little after-hours bar in Wakkanai, Japan... on NHK, in Nihongo. My buds and I couldn't understand a word that was bein' said but we knew we were witnessing history and were damned proud of that fact.

    1. Wow. I can picture that.

      That was an unbelievable moment in history.


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