They came from cities and towns, large and small. From the plains of
the Midwest and the hollows of Appalachia they came. East Coast, West
Coast and from everywhere between they answered the call.
Some had degrees with an alphabet soup of letters behind their names. Some had high school diplomas, some not even that.
Engineers, scientists, welders and pipe fitters, carpenters and chemists swelled the ranks…
They answered the call and the challenge issued by a young and charismatic President of the United States.
In a special address to Congress on May 25, 1961, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy stated:
“…I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the
goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and
returning him safely to the Earth.”
And at Rice University in 1962 he reaffirmed his commitment to lead
this nation to preeminence in the manned exploration of space. He said:
“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this
decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because
they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the
best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we
are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which
we intend to win…”
Some of us came from the aircraft industry, North American Aviation
in Los Angeles, McDonnell in St. Louis, Douglas Aircraft, Boeing and
Bell and Grumman on Long Island. Some from Chrysler and Bendix, others
from TWA and Pan Am, we were contractors and subcontractors and
employees of mom and pop companies, all part of the quest to put a man
on the moon and return him safely to earth.
We came from small towns with unfamiliar names, Seal Beach and
Huntington Beach in California; from Las Cruces, New Mexico, from and
Huntsville, Alabama and Bay St. Louis in Mississippi.
We all had two things in common. We were all committed JFK’s dream
and we all worked at the Cape during the wonderful days that were
Project Apollo. There are few of us left anymore and there will be
fewer still when we next set foot on the moon.
Sara Marshall on her wonderful website, www.insidetheapolloproject.com,
says, “Remember, the astronauts have the right stuff, but we engineers
have the REAL stuff”. So true! And everyone had a role to play.
We were the guys and gals, the “grunts” in the trenches so to speak,
who did the heavy lifting, and who made things work. We solved the
problems, wrote the equations and trod unfamiliar ground.
We flew the Saturn V
This is our story…