Friday, April 30, 2021

A Hero Passes

Michael Collins
Apollo 11 Command Module Pilot

 Wednesday, April 28th in Naples, Florida, a legend of the space program passed away. 

Michael Collins was the Command Module pilot for Apollo 11, the first mission to land humans on the Moon. He never placed a foot on the surface of the Moon, but he was definitely an integral part of the mission which occurred 52 years ago.

Of the three astronauts on that mission, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, it was Collins that I always admired most. I never felt that he was slighted in any way by not getting to walk on the Moon--he did his job and the mission was a success because of his contribution. He was an example for me demonstrating that success requires contributions form many people and while not everyone can be the center of attention; everyone has a role in achieving mission success.

Michael Collins wrote a book about the space program called Carrying the Fire. It was a revealing inside look at  what the astronauts experienced. I have read that book more than once because it was exciting to relive the experience of going to the moon but also learning about what it meant to be an astronaut in the 1960's. Amazingly, the first edition of the book which was published in 1974 is for sale on Amazon for $473!

In his obituary in The Guardian, Collins is quoted as saying: 

In 2019, on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, he said: “I may, in normal times, go a month or two without thinking about it. But when I do, it comes back with a great deal of clarity, more than I would have guessed.”

I, too, remember that great achievement of Apollo 11 and the ". . . one giant leap for mankind" that he helped make happen.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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