29 August 2012

On the death of Neil Armstrong

I heard about Neil Armstrong dying Saturday afternoon and I felt sad, proud, and nostalgic.

People who don't remember the 60's (because of age, not other circumstances) don't understand how big a deal astronauts and the space program were.  They were the biggest stars, everyone knew them, everyone wanted to be them.  There were 4 channels on television and whenever there was a launch it was covered by ALL the networks.  I watched every one I could, I knew the names of the 7 original astronauts and I was especially proud of Gus Grissom since he was also from Indiana and went to Purdue University.  I remember the saddest day of my young life when Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee were killed in a launch pad test on 27Jan1967.  I remember watching Borman, Lovell, and Anders circle the moon on Christmas Eve 1968.  And I for sure remember "Tranquility base, here.  The Eagle has landed."  It might have been 43 years ago but when I remember that it feels like it was yesterday.

I also have a once-removed connection to Neil Armstrong.  I was at Purdue from 1978-1982 and in the Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering department, which at the time was located in  Grissom Hall (after Gus, don't you know).  So, end of my Freshman year, finishing my first Aero class with Professor Hsu Lo.  It was his last sememster teaching, he was retiring, and the last class before our final he handed out papers to everyone telling them what their grade currently was and what they would get for the class depending on what they got on the final.  He then addressed the class. (Paraphrased)

"For this class I think B best grade.  A-students little too much egghead.  You can have fine career with C... C good grade.  1 of my Students get C my class, now President of Boeing Company.  Other you might have heard of, his name is Neil Armstrong."  Not said in a bragging way, just matter of fact.  And, Neil and I shared a grade.

RIP Neil, Thank You for your service.

1 comment:

  1. Such a great connection; you and Neil Armstrong. Some of the most famous and wonderful words ever spoken by an American citizen-"Just one small step for man; a giant leap for mankind." And what a leap of faith it was. RIP Mr. Armstrong.