Deployed soldiers, newlyweds, new parents share moon landing memories

People share their memories of watching the Apollo 11 moon landing

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

The moment Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon July 20, 1969, is frozen in time for the millions of people around the world who watched the moon landing or listened on the radio.

That day 50 years ago marked a new point in American history: before humans stepped on the moon and after. 

Ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, News 6 and ClickOrlando.com put out a call asking for its viewers to share their favorite memories of that day.

More than 100 people called or sent in audio recordings of their experiences. Some were members of the military who told of listening to the "great leap for mankind" while deployed around the world, including in Vietnam, Germany and Japan.

Ron Bobele vividly remembers the day Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the moon. He was "somewhere in Vietnam on the side of a mountain" sitting in a bomb crater with his fellow soldiers listening on the radio.

"I just sat there and wondered, 'Why am I here in a big ol' hole and they're landing on the moon?'" Bobele said.

Lamar Cox, and his bride, on July 20, 1969 in Melbourne, Fla. (Image credit: Lamar Cox)

Others recalled watching the lunar lander touch down with friends and family. For some it was their first experience watching a live event on TV. 

A few people who called in said they marked the historic day with life-changing events, such as the birth of their first-born child or returning home from deployment to marry their partner.

Lavon Hall, of Melbourne, remembers attending her brother's wedding that day. Hall's brother, a Marine, was injured in Vietnam and was able to get leave to come home and marry his fiancee.

"When man walked on the moon they were at a Howard Johnson's hotel eating a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken," Hall says.

More than 400,000 people contributed to the SaturnV/Apollo 11 mission. Retired space industry workers and their adult children called in to say what it meant to them to be part of the moon landing.

Roseann Roach, of Brentwood, Long Island, remembered watching the moon landing with her mother. She said it was special for her family because her mother worked at Grumman on the lunar module that landed Armstrong and Aldrin on the moon.

"In the LM that's on the moon there's a little chip and everyone who worked on it, they signed it and their name is in there," Roach said.

This anniversary is special to the family as they remember their late mother, knowing her name is on the moon.

For those born after 1969, the Saturn V launch from Kennedy Space Center and subsequent lunar touchdown is something you read about in history class, but for many of those who lived through it, it's like the Apollo 11 moon landing happened yesterday.

Click through the icons on the map below to listen to people recall where they were, who they were with and what they were doing July 20, 1969.

This story is part of ClickOrlando.com and News 6's Apollo 11 50th anniversary special. Visit ClickOrlando.com/moonlanding for more coverage.

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