Neil Armstrong was an American hero
It was sad to hear of the passing of Neil Armstrong, the first human to step on the moon and a true American hero.
I enjoyed reading the many articles on him and his exploits as an astronaut. It brought back many memories of my younger days growing up with the space program and closely following the race with the Russians to see which nation could be the first to land a human on the moon.
I wrote a column a few months back when John Glenn, another American hero, turned 90. I vividly recall the early years of the space program and was surprised when I read while Mr. Armstrong was not a member of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, he entered the space program in 1962, far earlier than I would have imagined.
I recall getting up early in the morning to watch the launches of rockets carrying astronauts into space. It seemed every one was set for 5:30 a.m. and after a while, well I was 10, I didn’t get up to watch every one.
I recall the splash downs and was pleased to have recently toured the USS Hornet, now a museum in the Bay Area, and saw its display on Apollo 11, the capsule that took Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon and back. The Hornet was the carrier that picked up the capsule after it plunged into the ocean. The decontamination trailer the men were put in is part of the Hornet’s display.
In reading the articles about Armstrong one thing that really struck me was his statement that he never had a dream of walking on the moon, even though he lived for 42 years after that historic walk. Dreams are fascinating as well and I would have thought he would have had some dreams of that event. Maybe he did but they didn’t last long enough for him to remember the dream, but maybe not.
I am sure he had dreams about being an astronaut.
Armstrong was part of the second wave of brave men who joined the space program. They were called the Gemini Astronauts, those that followed the Mercury pioneers. Some of those moved on to the Apollo team that would eventually man the moon missions.
I am sure we all have our own memories of the space program and while it was an awful lot of money, a lot of good came out of the program and a lot of the things we enjoy today have roots in the space program.
Hopefully, Mr. Armstrong is getting another unique view of this planet — a view he got in 1969 as being the first human to walk on the moon.
Rick Elkins is editor of the Porterville Recorder. He can be reached at 784-5000, ext. 1040, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter.