‘First Man’ in retrospect of ‘Apollo 11’

First…watch the clips.  Funny how that works.  Both movies needed to exist. Both First Man that gets the musical drama, grease, noise, and deeper meaning, but not the truth. And, Apollo 11 for the mission I never saw, nor many saw in detail, on the big screen.

These clips summarizes what every single NASA Astronaut has said on reaching space.  Individually and collectively.  And here, in the First Man clip, the character portraying Mr. Neil Armstrong, as a civilian, expressing it openly during his interview speaking about his experiences in the X-15 rocket plane.  About the Earth.  About space exploration.  About what it revels to us, about us.

Forget First Man‘s chopped and hacked version of Neil Armstrong’s early life. In truth, Armstrong flew 78 missions over Korea – not mentioned in First Man – for a total of 121 hours in the air, a third of them in January 1952, with the final mission on March 5, 1952.  Of 492 U.S. Navy personnel killed in the Korean War, 27 of them were from the Essex on this war cruise, His ship.   He saw many fellow aviators die.

Armstrong received the Air Medal for 20 combat missions, two gold stars for the next 40, the Korean Service Medal and Engagement Star, the National Defense Service Medal and the United Nations Korea Medal.  His regular commission was terminated on February 25, 1952, and he became an ensign in the United States Navy Reserve.  On completion of his combat tour with Essex, he was assigned to a transport squadron, VR-32, in May 1952.  He was released from active duty on August 23, 1952, but remained in the reserves, and was promoted to lieutenant (junior grade) on May 9, 1953.  As a reservist, he continued to fly, with VF-724 at Naval Air Station Glenview in Illinois, and then, after moving to California, with VF-773 at Naval Air Station Los Alamitos.

He remained in the reserve for eight years, before resigning his commission on October 21, 1960.

After his service with the Navy, Armstrong returned to Purdue. His previously earned good but not outstanding grades now improved, lifting his final Grade Point Average (GPA) to a respectable but not outstanding 4.8 out of 6.0.  He pledged the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, and lived in its fraternity house.  He wrote and co-directed two musicals as part of the all-student revue.  The first was a version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, co-directed with his girlfriend Joanne Alford from the Alpha Chi Omega sorority, with songs from the Walt Disney film, including Someday My Prince Will Come; the second was titled The Land of Egelloc, with music from Gilbert and Sullivan but new lyrics.  He was chairman of the Purdue Aero Flying Club, and flew the club’s aircraft, an Aeronca and a couple of Pipers, which were kept at nearby Aretz Airport in Lafayette, Indiana. Flying the Aeronca to Wapakoneta in 1954, he damaged it in a rough landing in a farmer’s field, and it had to be hauled back to Lafayette on a trailer. He was a baritone player in the Purdue All-American Marching Band. Ten years later he was made an honorary member of Kappa Kappa Psi national band honorary fraternity. Armstrong graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering in January 1955. In 1970 he completed his Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC). He would eventually be awarded honorary doctorates by several universities.  He was a skilled civilian when he went to NACA, as a test pilot and later NASA.  He later led the Apollo 11.

“Buzz” Aldrin had achieved his doctorate by then and was an instructor.

“Michael Collins was born in Rome, Italy on October 31, 1930. Inspired by John Glenn, he was chosen by NASA to be part of the third group of astronauts. His first spaceflight was the Gemini 10 mission, where he performed a spacewalk. His second was Apollo 11—the first lunar landing in history. Collins received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He currently works as an aerospace consultant.” 
“Michael Collins was born on October 31, 1930 in Rome, Italy, where his father, United States Army Major General James Lawton Collins, was stationed.  After the United States entered World War II, the family moved to Washington, D.C., where Collins attended St. Albans School. During this time, he applied and was accepted to West Point Military Academy in New York, and decided to follow his father, two uncles, brother and cousin into the armed services.
“In 1952, Collins graduated from West Point with a Bachelor of Science degree. He joined the Air Force that same year, and completed flight training in Columbus, Mississippi. His performance earned him a position on the advanced day fighter training team at Nellis Air Force Base, flying the F-86 Sabres. This was followed by an assignment to the 21st Fighter-Bomber Wing at the George Air Force Base, where he learned how to deliver nuclear weapons. He also served as an experimental flight test officer at Edwards Air Force Base in California, testing jet fighters. ”  – from Biography, NASAHe was a gallant Officer, and a treasured pilot of the the Command module  in Apollo 11.

Below are the mementoes that Neil, Michael, and Buzz left on the moon for those Cosmonauts and Astronauts that did not make it , and for which they believed they owed a debt…




Note to self:  If you plan or attempt a write-up of ANY Astronaut or their life, wait until the final version of Wikipedia is compiled!

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