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[b]John S. Llewellyn, Jr., 1931 - 2012[/b]
John S. Llewellyn, Jr., 80, who from 1962 through 1965 served in Mission Control as a remote site flight controller and then retrofire officer (RETRO) during the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs died this afternoon, Tuesday, May 8, 2012, fellow flight controller Sy Liebergot shares.
In his 2000 autobiography "Failure is Not an Option," flight director Gene Kranz described Llewellyn as "a stocky, square-jawed former Marine" who was an early member of the Space Task Group.
Llewellyn is credited with coining the term "Trench" for the front rows of Mission Control, where the most active consoles and controllers were located, as recounted by Charles Murray and Catherine Bly Cox in their 1989 book, "Apollo: The Race to the Moon."
[i]Llewellyn, who in other incarnations operated a flame thrower in the Korean War and tried to raise cattle in Belize, was a capable and conscientious Retro within the walls of the Control Center and prone to the most outrageous adventures everywhere else — "Butch Cassidy born a hundred years too late," as another controlled described him. Even within the walls of the MOCR, Llewellyn had his own way of doing things.
For example, Retro was supposed to count down to retrofire in the usual "ten, nine, eight..." pattern, but with Llewellyn, you never knew. Once he started at fifteen. Another time he began "ten, eight," and, when the puzzled FIDO looked over at him, quickly added "nine, seven..." Sometimes he got behind, and so the count would end up "...five, four, one, retrofire!" But he always go to "Retrofire!" at the right time, and was otherwise an exemplary Retro — inside the MOCR.
Outside, was another story, or dozens of stories. He is said to have broken a few bones falling from a collapsing drainpipe as he climbed back to his motel room after the front door had been locked on him at the Nigerian remote site — or was it Australia? He is said to have found a man with a lady friend, thrown him out of a second-story window, and then, intent on inflicting further damage, jumped out after him. There are at least three different stories, involving three different bodies of water, in which Llewellyn submerged cars.
Llewellyn himself was no help in sorting out truth from fiction in all of this, smilingly denying everything, occasionally throwing in a correction that was more improbable than the original story.
In any case, it is said that Llewellyn used to get mad at the O&P guy sitting up in the third row of the MOCR. O&P would inquire of him whether his retrofire times were completed yet, and Llewellyn would tell him belligerently, "Y'all oughta get your ass down here in the in trench workin' this instead of sittin' up there," and the name stuck.[/i]
Between 1997 and 2001, Llewellyn participated in [URL=http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/history/oral_histories/LlewellynJS/llewellynjs.pdf]six interviews[/URL] for Johnson Space Center's Oral History Project.
[i][b]Above[/b] When the Apollo 14 crew was unable, after repeated attempts, to dock with the lunar module, the Operations Team was faced with the prospect of having to abort the mission. In order to work out new procedures, Mission Control hastily located a docking probe and drogue. Flight controller John Llewellyn (left) discusses possible solutions with Bob Gilruth, George Abbey, and John Young.[/i]
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