FEEDBACK: Where were you when the Eagle landed?
Editor’s note: With today’s 50th anniversary of the moon landing, The Union recently reached out to readers to share their memories from June 20, 1969, one of the most awe-inspiring moments in American history.
A YOUNGSTER’S IMAGINATION
Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon happened just four minutes prior to my 8 p.m. bedtime. A bedtime which would only be relaxed for occasions such as this.
Sometime after the 8:42 p.m. flag raising, my mom, probably gave my dad some sort of high sign, indicating that we kiddies should be in bed. Dad invited us to go outside to look at the moon. Standing in the yard of our Devonshire Circle home my father, gifted with the wonderful skill of sparking any youngsters imagination, succeeded in convincing me that I could see the astronauts on the moon.
At first, I had difficulty spotting them, but he kept pointing and saying, “They’re right there. Can you see them now?”
And then it happened — astronauts, lunar module, flag and everything, magically loomed into view. I was just under 8 years old, and only through the imaginative eyes of a child could such a sight have been observed. I jumped up and down and shouted excitedly, “I see them, I see them!”
My father then had me wave to them and bid them goodnight.
There was no doubt in my mind that I actually saw the astronauts waving back.
ALMOST FRONT-PAGE NEWS
I am a retired Navy commander currently living in Lake Wildwood. On July 20, 1969 I was a LTJG in flight school in Pensacola, Florida.
Early the morning of July 20, I was part of a four-plane formation that flew from NAS Jacksonville out to the carrier USS Lexington where I made two touch-and-go’s and four arrested landings (the first of over 500 carrier landings in my 20-year as a Navy pilot). After we got our traps (carrier landings), the four planes flew back to Jacksonville and turned the airplanes over to four other students so they could go out to the ship and get their “first traps.”
The four returning pilots went to the Officer’s Club to celebrate our milestone first carrier landings. While sitting at the “O Club” bar I watched Neil Armstrong make the famous first walk on the moon. Over the years I have jokingly told this story more than once, claiming that my first carrier landing was most certainly bumped off the first page of the newspaper by Neil Armstrong and the Apollo 11 moon landing
HAPPY CAMPERS, INDEED
I was a counselor at Kennolyn Camp (located in Soquel) that summer. I was taking some 10-plus children up into the Sierra mountains that week to backpack. We were traveling in a VW bus and stopped in Los Banos so we could “watch” the landing. My parents lived there and the only TV was in their bedroom so all of the children and my adult helpers sprawled on my parents’ king-sized bed to watch the events unfold.
There was a several hours gap between the landing and the walk so we piled back into the van and continued on our way. Got the children all settled in their sleeping bags and then I walked up on a granite slab that seem to reflect the moonlight extra special that night.
I saluted out loud the men who were taking that first historic walk. No TV, but imagined it well.
Cicely Bates Brookover
In the summer of 1969, we were drifting around Europe in a VW van. I remember the moon landing very clearly.
We were drinking bier in a small German gasthaus on the Neckar River near Heidelberg, Germany. The place was full of German regulars who crowded around a small TV. They were very excited and cheered loudly when the landing was shown. They felt a great kinship with the U.S. and showed great pride in man’s ability to go to the moon.
I remember wondering if there was this amount of excitement back home in the States.
HOPEFULLY, WE’LL GO AGAIN
My interest started when I was four, living in Redlands. My dad would take me outside to view one of the USA’s first satellites, Echo, crossing the night sky.
Growing up, I fell in love with the NASA program. I collected every newspaper article I could, and watched every launch televised. I built a model of the Lunar Lander and collected other NASA memorabilia. July 20, 1969 was the culmination of my intense excitement! I was 12, with my sister and mom, and I was holding an American flag. We were staring at the TV. I was holding my breath as Neil Armstrong was relating their descent, and when he said, “Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed,” I was wildly cheering, crying, and waving my flag.
To this day, I get choked up every time I hear those words. We napped, then once again, we were glued to the TV to watch the first moonwalks by men from Earth.
I always wanted to work for NASA, but life went another path. I now follow the current space program. Hopefully, we’ll go again.
Thanks for the break, Boss
On July 19, 1969, I was sent to a fire on the Big Valley Ranger District, Modoc National Forest near Adin.
It was a Saturday and being a starving college student, I really liked those overtime days getting a whopping $3.71/hour.
We worked through the night and knowing the first moon landing was going to happen around 1 p.m. we convinced the Sector Boss to let us off around 10 a.m. so we could get back to the barracks to watch the landing on a black-and-white TV. You see in those days there was no way to record a live TV show so we had to be there to not miss it.
This was one of those significant emotional events that I will never forget
FROM LAUGHTER TO AWED SILENCE
The moon landing is etched in my memory. My former spouse and I were at an afternoon barbecue in Albuquerque, where I was stationed with the Army at now-closed Sandia Base.
Fellow officers and their wives and girlfriends were on the deck in the hot sun talking and laughing when someone called for us to come inside and watch the TV. We all filed inside to see the Apollo Lunar Module on the moon’s surface and Neil Armstrong’s actual descent down the ladder. The mood of the crowd changed from laughter to awed silence as we watched what everyone realized was a momentous and memorable event.
MARVELING IN THE NIGHT SKY
On July 20, 1969, my soon-to-be husband and I were returning from a camping and boating trip to the Colorado River at Parker, Arizona.
The desert sky was clear and bright, we were listening to the (latest on the) Apollo 11 moon landing on the radio and looking at the moon … marveling at the wonders of science. We never forgot that awesome moment.
HISTORIC, BUT MUCH MORE ON MY MIND
I had finished college, gotten married, and was employed when I received my draft notice to report to the Army induction station in Boston, the day after the Apollo 11 moon launch in 1969.
While Americans were excited about the moon mission, I was focused on getting things in order, packing and saying goodbyes. As the astronauts hurtled toward the moon, I was dealing with my own unknowns. My first challenge was being in charge of and getting 20 draftees from Boston to Fort Dix, New Jersey. Once there, we received uniforms and everyone transferred out for basic training except me. I had special orders.
On Sunday, July 20, the Army brought out a 25-inch black-and-white TV with rabbit ears and set it up on the back of a truck. Along with other soldiers, we gathered around to watch the historic moon landing. While indeed it was historic, the event did not thrill me with excitement. You see I was alone and homesick, and I knew that I was going to be transferred later that week to Fort Sam Houston for training as a combat medic and probably sent to Vietnam. But that’s a whole ’nother story.
FIRST MAN ON MOON; FIRST HOMER FOR PERRY
I had just completed my first year at Chico State and was home for the summer.
I had been a fan of the Giants since they moved to San Francisco. It was my parents’ wedding anniversary and the took me to the Giants vs. Dodgers game. Claude Osteen was the pitcher for the Dodgers and Gaylord Perry for the Giants. It was our hay day with Mays, McCovey, Bonds and the rest.
Gaylord Perry came up to bat and the announcer said, “It will be the day a man lands on the moon that Gaylord Perry hit a home run.”
And he did hit one. The first of his career I believe. Giants won 7-3.
That’s where I was July 20, 1969.
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