Courier-Post from Camden, New Jersey on August 1, 1969 · Page 46
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Courier-Post from Camden, New Jersey · Page 46

Camden, New Jersey
Issue Date:
Friday, August 1, 1969
Page 46
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4 M COURIER-POST, Camdt, N. J., May, AuB ; - 1 i if . te f)--M;Sl lilliiilttili Neil Armstrong . . . Introspective W HEN NEIL A L I) E N ARMSTRONG, was a boy in Wapakoneta, Ohio, he dreamed of going to the moon. The man, who flew before he drove, realized that ambition last Sunday. America's taciturn astronaut became the first man to set foot on the soil of the satellite which he used to look at through a neighbor's eight-inch homemade telescope. Armstrong, who will be 39 Aug. 5, is commonly thought of as a quiet, introspective individual with a penchant for doing dangerous things. AS A COMBAT PILOT in Korea with the U.S. Navy (78 missions), he nursed one crippled Panther jet back to the carrier Essex and on another occasion was shot down behind enemy lines and rescued the next day. For his work he received three Air Medals. When he went to work for the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics in 1955 (the forerunner of NASA), he became an experimental test pilot and went on ,to set records in the famed X-15. He had a near miss while piloting the plane, as he was later to have as an astronaut (he joined in 1962) on the Gemini 8 flight which splash-landed on emergency procedures. JUST A YEAR AGO, he had another near-miss (by 60 feet) when a Lunar Landing Research Vehicle he was piloting crashed into the ground. In spite of his flirtations with near-disasters, Armstrong's hobby is flying (particularly sailplanes) which is the realization of his boyhood ambitions. Armstrong, like a good many other famous people in history, came from a small town, and like them he thought big. WAPAKONETA (pop. 7,000) afforded the Wapak Flying Service where Armstrong as a teenager used to spend $9 per hour to fly in training planes. He got his money from working in a local drug store for 40 cents an hour. Incidentally, today he earns over $30,000 a year as NASA's highest paid astronaut and a civilian at that. In his room he built model airplanes or devoured copies of aeronautical magazines. Occasionally he went down the street to look through the homemade telescope. AS A NEIGHBOR RECALLS, his favorite spot on the moon was the Sea of Tranquility, the major area picked by NASA as the lunar landing site. The first of three children born of Stephen and Viola Armstrong, the b 1 u e - e y e d , sandy-haired, slightly-smiling boy preferred the company of books to that of playmates. To a degree, Armstrong hasn't changed much from that early trait. Although his co-workers consider him quiet and suggest that he has more faith in machines than he does in fellowmen, his friends regard Armstrong with warm affection. HE HAS BEEN KNOWN to chug-a-lug a friendly beer or two when not in training and is a nimble player of the stock market. He's devoted to his wife Janet, whom he met at Purdue where he attended on a Navy scholarship, and his two sons, Eric, 12, and Mark, 6. Their present house, a two-story structure located in El Lago, Tex., a community of 1,100, follows the Armstrongs' penchant for living "away from it all." For example, their first house was a converted forest ranger's cabin located in the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains, while most of the NASA pilots lived in Lancaster, California, a short distance from work. JAN USED TO GO OUT on the roof of their house when Armstrong was flying Z-15 crafts and watch as the relatively huge B-52s dropped the small planes from their underbelly. T.iff maeazlne in- tervicwer of her husband: Silence is a Neil Armstrong answer. The word 'no' is an argument. As is the case with quiet and reserved men everywhere, there are those who have misgivings about his feelings and motives. But those who kn w him best regard him as a fine individual who happens to prefer aeing a loner. HE HAS A DRY HUMOR that sails right past many acquaintances, plays the piano (he loves music and once played in a high school combo known as the Mississippi Moonshiners), and enjoys a good book (but can't put it down) and likes to glide into space in a sailplane. After all, he notes, it's good to "get away from the office for a while." A hard worker who with his astronautic colleagues trained 16 to 18 hours a day and began all over again the next morning at 7:30, a quiet man who pauses before delivering succinct answers to questions, and a lover of flight and space, Armstrong brought all ' of these qualities to bear on the Apollo 11 program. CURIOUSLY, ARMSTRONG originally didn't want to get involved in the space program. But apparently the clear-cut goal of going to the moon (established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961) persuaded him otherwise. Today, he is a firm believer in the space program and in the Apollo missions. DOUBTLESS HE IS AWARE of his role in history and doubtless he feels a sense of quiet pride and accomplishment much the same feeling that Americans and the world have for him. Unquestionalby, reams of commentary will be written about him and his role in the historic Apollo flight. But perhaps the best key to Armstrong's character is a line that appeared in his high school yearbook: "He thinks, he acts 'tis done." Mike Collins . . . Philosophic WEST POINT WAS WELL represented on the moon last week both Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin are graduates of the military academy. Collins graduated the year after Aldrin (1952) but elected to join the Air Force. One might have expected his father, Army Gen. James L. Collins, to object, but he didn't. In fact, the astronaut's brother, James L. Collins Jr., is presently a brigadier general stationed in Germany, and his uncle, J. Lawton (Lightning Joe) Collins, is a former Army Chief of Staff and a famous World War II general. WITH ALL OF THE military heritage surrounding Collins, he might have become a pragmatic military-minded man. But Collins' interests are fishing, . books and roses, and his most cherished memory is of the days he spent as a child in a 400-year-old walled mansion in Puerto Rico. Collins is known as a rather quiet and sensitive man who will go out of his way to avoid saying anything unpleasant to people. He is also considered the most philosophic of the trio and a bit of a fatalist. For example, prior to taking off on the Gemini 10 flight in 1966, & - -'"-"VV- S. 32, 1 c- -r.;- si.', ' I ' ?' he left his wife Pat a copy of his favorite poem. In the back of his mind he knew he might not come back. LIKE THE OTHER astronauts, Collins is not one to shirk, from potentially dangerous situations. In mid-1968 he was scheduled to go aloft on the Apollo 8 mission, but his participation was scrubbed when doctors discovered a bone spur in his neck which caused him considerable trouble with the sensations in his limbs. Collins had a choice of two operations a difficult one designed to alleviate the condition and a dangerous one to cure it. He opted for the more dangerous which proved successful. UNLIKE HIS APOLLO 11 colleagues, Collins was not a small town boy. He was born in Rome, Italy, in 1930 where his father was a military attache. The family moved around the globe for awhile and Collins lived in Oklahoma, Baltimore, Texas, New York and Puerto Rico before settling in Washington, D.C. There Collins attended St. Albans School for Boys where his grades were good, though not exceptional, and where he also became known as a prankster. He was rated the Buzz Aldrin ONE OF THE FIRST two men who landed on the moon is a native of New Jersey. Edwin Eugene ("Buzz") Aldrin Jr., 39, was born and raised in Montclair, and his wife, Joan, came from Ho-Ho-Kus. Aldrin's parents presently reside in Brielle. For Aldrin, last Sunday's moon landing was really a continuation, albeit a highly dramatic one, of a family tradition of being part of aeronautical history. HIS FATHER, now 73 and a retired U.S. Army colonel (Aldrin is an Air Force colonel), was a close associate of Orville Wright. The elder Aldrin was also a friend and student of Robert God-dard, the American rocket pioneer. He introduced Charles Lindbergh (who created some flying history of his own) to Goddard and enabled the scientist to obtain financing for his projects. Finally, he was a promoter of commercial aviation and served in the Army Air Force. With that type of background, it's not too surprising that the younger Aldrin wanted to become an aviator. HE PUT HIS DESIRE into practice by attaining an A average while attending Montclair High School. He also found time to play center for the school's 1946 championship football team. Aldrin's academic excellence paid off as he was accepted at West Point, graduating first in his plebe class in 1948 and third in his senior class of 1951. From West Point, Aldrin was sent first to Texas for flight training and then to Korea where he flew 66 fighter missions, downing two North Korean MIGs and damaging another. UPON HIS RETURN from Korea, he struck up a correspondence-school romance with a blonde theatrical arts graduate named Joan Archer. She was living in New Jersey while he was working as an Air Force instructor in Nevada. When they married, they had only been together five times the rest of their courtship was carried on via the U.S. mails. Aldrin's involvement with the space program began when he decided to become an astronaut in 1959. To do so would require more education and flight time than he had compiled (he also flew F-lOOs in Germany), so he asked the Air Force to send him to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. fourth most popular student in his graduating class. HE THEN MARCHED OFF to West Point where his academic record was fair to middlin' and joined the Air Force as a test pilot after graduation. Classmates of Collins at the Point thought of him as a carefree individual without any particular aim in life. At Edwards Air Force Base, California, Collins' life took sudden direction when he decided that he wanted to be more than a test pilot and applied for the astronaut program. He was turned down on his first application, but by 1963 he was one of the crew in Houston. In July, 1966, he rode into orbit with John Young and became the United State's second spacewalker. When the Gemini 19 flight was over he took his wife to France, visited the Paris Air Show and went to Chambley where they were married ten years before. CONSIDERED THE MOST home-loving of the trio of hearth-hearted astronauts, he seems happiest when he's at home with Pat and their three children: Kathleen, 10, Ann, 7, and Mike, 6. Thus, a rose -growing handball champion (among his fellow astronauts) with a penchant for reading and fishing and a flair for poetry became part of America's first team to the moon. Even to a fatalist like Collins, that must have seemed a curious twist of fate. i0 If 1 4 jf . . . Scholar AT MIT ALDRIN wrote a doctoral thesis on orbital rendezvous that whizzed past the professors' heads but caught the attention of NASA scientists. He put the thesis into practice on the Gemini (12) flight in 1966 when he also set a five hour and 30 minute record for space walking. LIKE FLIGHT COMMANDER Neil Armstrong, Aldrin is regarded as a loner who can operate well with a team but is nonetheless highly individualistic. Aldrin is fascinated by computers and how they can be used. But he is described as a man who masters the computers and not the other way around. Again, like Armstrong and crewmate Michael Collins, he is a family man. He and Joan have three children: Andrew J., 11, Janice, 12, and Michael, 13. I , MmAfML.

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