Saturday, August 23, 2014

Neil Armstrong 40 years later (post 67)

The next time I again saw Neil Armstrong in person was 40 years later in 2009. By then Armstrong had achieved almost mythic status and was only making a limited number of public appearances. I was at the Apollo 12 40th Anniversary dinner, sponsored by the worthy Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF), when he arrived surrounded by security men wearing ear plugs. I began to understand the reason when he was literally mobbed by well-wishers seeking a photo with him or to say hello (it was well-known he had stopped giving autographs). My hopes for a personal picture with Armstrong were dashed, but I was able to get some close-up shots of him. However, when ASF put on-line the photos from the event, I was thrilled to find a photograph showing Neil at his table (with Gene Cernan and Charlie Bolden) with me lurking in the background at upper right behind Alan Bean! So while I never had a formal picture taken with Neil, there is at least this one photo with both of us in the same frame. (I also saw him from a distance at the Apollo 13 40th Anniversary dinner at the Adler Planetarium in 2010). No one could have been a better choice for First Man than Neil Armstrong. He was a brilliant pilot, an intellectual fascinated by the intricacies of subjects ranging from aeronautical engineering to chronometers, a quiet man who conducted himself with dignity but who was also comfortable with who he was. While some criticized him for not being more of a cheerleader for space, Armstrong did serve as vice-chairman of the commission investigating the Challenger disaster and made appearances before Congress on the future of space. Neil Armstrong’s name will be remembered for thousands of years; I feel privileged to have seen him in person as he walked out in his spacesuit to fly to the Moon.

#Apollo11Eyewitness  Post #67

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