First Man on the Moon, and Vietnam

May 1, 1969, Guy was stationed at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. That day he was alerted for orders for Vietnam that July. First he was sent to Biloxi, Mississippi, for training–the same place he’d been to in 1966 for tech school for Air Traffic Control.

By the end of June, we headed for home–Iowa. We’d adopted a stray Cocker Spaniel with an underbite, so Muffy headed east with us, riding in a laundry basket in the back seat of our VW bug, along with my precious portable sewing machine.

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We spent the next few weeks visiting family and friends at Glidden, Dexter, and Cedar Falls. We happened to be at Guy’s family home near Glidden on July 16 when Apollo 11 blasted off with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins aboard.

We were still there four days later, when Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the moon in NASA’s Lunar Module called the Eagle. Collins stayed in orbit around the moon, while doing experiments and taking pictures.

On July 20, Neil Armstrong became the first human to step on the moon. His famous quote was, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

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Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon

Aldrin joined him on the surface where they walked around for three hours carrying out experiments and collecting moon rocks and soil. This is what we were watching on TV that day.

The astronauts planted a US flag there, plus a sign: “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”

Apollo11

Armstrong and Aldrin returned to Apollo 11, joining Collins. On July 24, all three astronauts returned safely to Earth.

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Waiting for Apollo 11 astronauts to land on the moon. Joy (always stitching on something), Oren (died in 1971), Vey (now a Hospice chaplain with white hair in Indiana), Carol (will be 96 in September), Lowell (who lost a leg in a cornpicker accident later that fall, and died the next April at age 48–while Guy was in Vietnam), and Lois Kidney (a California apiarist and musician). July 20, 1969, rural Glidden, Iowa.

Vietnam

At 7:25 a.m. on July 29, Guy left for Travis AFB, Fairfield, California, from the Des Moines airport. He was eventually stationed at Nha Trang, South Vietnam.

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Because his father died the next spring, Guy was able to return home before his year was up. His enlistment was nearly finished, too, so he was discharged at Offutt AFB, near Omaha, Nebraska, at the end of May, 1970.

Whenever someone mentions the first time men walked on the moon, it takes me back to the few weeks we were home before Guy headed for Vietnam.

12 comments

  1. I was 11 when we landed. One of the memories that has stayed with me about that event was from the movie Hanoi Hilton. In it, Jane Fonda had gone over, and delivered letters to the POWs that weren’t even looked at my the communists. One of them had the moon landing stamp on it, and it was their first confirmation we’d managed to that. I remember they passed the letter around smiling.

  2. There must have been countless families sitting together on the couch watching Walter Cronkite and waiting, waiting, waiting for that unbelievable moment when a man’s feet touched the surface of the moon. For my family, that scene took place at our next-door neighbor’s house because we didn’t have a television. I loved the “Somewhere in Nebraska” photo! (Is that a dog in a laundry basket?!)

  3. I know we watched the landing, but I don’t have a vivid recollection like yours. I think my father was probably in Vietnam at the time, on his second tour.

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