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  Astronaut recovery hats (Mercury to Apollo) (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   Astronaut recovery hats (Mercury to Apollo)
4allmankind
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posted 10-17-2013 10:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 4allmankind   Click Here to Email 4allmankind     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've always been fascinated with the caps that the astronauts wore for activities on the recovery ships. Does anyone know how many of those hats have come to auction? I recall three, all via Heritage Galleries:
  • GT-12 Jim Lovell
  • Apollo 13 Lovell (perhaps there is no better!?)
  • Apollo 16 John Young
Does anyone else appreciate these hats and keep an eye out for them? Am I missing any that have been publicly offered?

chet
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posted 10-18-2013 12:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Young (as backup commander) also offered his USS Iwo Jima worn Apollo 13 recovery hat through Heritage.

4allmankind
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posted 10-18-2013 03:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 4allmankind   Click Here to Email 4allmankind     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good point. That was an odd one to me given that I had no idea these hats were also possibly created for those on the back-up crew as well.

My primary interest in the hats is the fact that when one comes up for auction, it is the very same hat you see in the photos of him on the carrier. Photo matched items have always been fascinating to me.

On the Young/Apollo 13 you mention, have you ever seen a photo of Young on the Iwo Jima? I've searched and can't find anything.

chet
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posted 10-18-2013 08:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I haven't ever seen or been able to find a shot of Young (or the other members of the backup crew) on (or below) deck after Apollo 13's recovery, but I doubt there are none that exist. But definitely a rarity — I'm certain of that.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-18-2013 08:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Was the backup crew even on board the Iwo Jima?

I ask because I've looked through the wide angle photos of the crew's welcome on board (stepping off the helo and such) and I don't see them (in hats or otherwise). Wouldn't you expect them to come out and greet the crew?

4allmankind
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posted 10-18-2013 08:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 4allmankind   Click Here to Email 4allmankind     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't profess to be an expert in a matter that occurred nine years before my birth but I will say that I spent a considerable amount of time trying to place Young on that ship... And couldn't.

chet
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posted 10-19-2013 04:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Unless he is himself mistaken, at least John Young among the backup crew was definitely aboard the ship during the recovery; he wrote as much on the bill of the hat he offered through Heritage.

LM-12
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posted 10-19-2013 01:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The PAO transcript seems to indicate that John Young was in the MOCR during the Apollo 13 recovery. See page 927.
PAO: Gene Cernan, backup Commander for Apollo 14 is here, Tony England, who served as the scientist for the Apollo 13 crew is in the room at this time as is John Young.

chet
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posted 10-19-2013 07:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, seems to be a paradox (and a troubling one at that). I certainly don't think Young deliberately misrepresented the facts in question here, but it seems safe to say there was some confusion on his part as to his actual whereabouts that day.

NJSPACEFAN
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posted 10-19-2013 07:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NJSPACEFAN   Click Here to Email NJSPACEFAN     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To borrow a word, I think he "misremembered", just as Sy L. is adamant that Young was not standing over his shoulder as claimed in his book. I had checked all Apollo 13 photos like Robert as well and as backup CDR certainly he would have been in one of the photos greeting the crew but was not; nor in any photo in Hawaii in the stop over. He definitely was in the MSC for the splashdown.

Perhaps a hat was made for him in the event of a normal splashdown; or he flew to the carrier in between splashdown and Hawaii. But there is no photo evidence of him ever being on the carrier.

4allmankind
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posted 10-19-2013 10:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 4allmankind   Click Here to Email 4allmankind     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sad but true. Nicely done LM-12. I never got around to searching the transcript.

LM-12
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posted 10-19-2013 10:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As an astronaut, John Young said he has seen more than most men see in "ten lifetimes". That is a lot to remember!

4allmankind
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posted 10-20-2013 08:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 4allmankind   Click Here to Email 4allmankind     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, a nice piece of investigation work was done here in our community with this thread.

LM-12
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posted 10-20-2013 11:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That was interesting. Glad to share the info.

The Apollo 12 crew wore two sets of hats during the recovery — blue caps stepping off the helicopter, and white caps in the Mobile Quarantine Facility. Looks like the white caps have U.S. Navy emblems like the ones Conrad and Gordon wore on their Gemini 11 suits.

Photo AS12-50-7369 shows one of the white caps in the CM during the translunar coast.

LM-12
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posted 10-22-2013 12:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
John Young, Ken Mattingly, Charlie Duke and Tom Stafford can be seen in the MOCR at 59:33 into this Apollo 13 recovery footage. John Young has his pipe.

chet
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posted 10-22-2013 11:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
...and even there John Young's not wearing the hat.

(On the other hand, he is "at" the recovery.)

stsmithva
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posted 01-16-2014 10:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stsmithva   Click Here to Email stsmithva     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was the top bidder on an eBay lot of baseball-style caps from the recoveries of Apollo 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, and 15. I'm hoping a cS member will be able to help me find photos of them being worn on those historic days.

For each of those missions there are photographs of the astronauts themselves wearing personalized versions of these hats. For example, here is the crew of Apollo 13 stepping on board USS Iwo Jima, wearing the ones they were given in the helicopter.

However, even though these caps were available to the Navy crew members (and NASA personnel) on board during the recovery missions, and therefore there are probably hundreds of each, I can't find any pictures of these standard, non-astronaut-personalized versions being worn. I even checked the recovery sections of those missions' photos in the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal. Most of the photos were of just the astronauts or of also a few officers wearing standard headgear. Can anyone point out such a photo to me?

By the way, having received the caps, I am confident that they are the original, vintage wool items. The Apollo 13 one has the same silver manufacturer's printing inside as this one that sold at Heritage a while back.

Editor's note: Threads merged.

spaced out
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posted 01-17-2014 06:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would have thought it most likely the non-astronaut versions were produced after the event as souvenirs for the crews of the ships.

kosmo
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posted 01-17-2014 09:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kosmo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have always been interested in the recovery operations of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs, probably stems from the anticipation and excitement of seeing that parachute or bobbing capsule and knowing that after all the danger the astronauts had been through, they were finally safe.

The recovery caps that you have are definitely from the period, Harvard Sports Headware, wool, etc. I've included some pictures of the caps in my collection and a picture of the caps in the USS Hornet museum collection. The Apollo 12 cap was a royal blue as apposed to the dark blue Apollo 11 cap. The only difference I can see with your Apollo 12 cap is the lack of braiding on the bill.

I have seen a photo of Alan Shepard/Apollo 14, wearing his recovery cap, the printing on the face of the cap is identical to the one you have, yours lacking the braiding on the bill. I have also seen a photo(s) of crew members of the Apollo 11 recovery, wearing the identical cap in the USS Hornet collection.

I hope this helps a little, I've included some photos.

Liembo
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posted 01-17-2014 09:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Liembo   Click Here to Email Liembo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I purchased the recovery ship patches that were sold by this seller at around the same time and asked the seller what their father's duty was on the ship and they replied, "Worked for NASA, operated one of the communication huts on the top deck that relayed data, info, communication to spacecraft and downloaded to NASA locations worldwide. " I don't know if this sheds any light on the possible origins of the hats as well...

spaced out
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posted 01-17-2014 10:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just to clarify, when I suggested they were produced after the event I don't mean years later but in the weeks following the recovery.

If these hats had been produced before (excpet for the crew examples) I believe they would appear in every photo of the recoveries.

kosmo
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posted 01-17-2014 10:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kosmo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This photo with text may shed some light on when these caps were produced:

Go4Launch
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posted 01-17-2014 11:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Go4Launch   Click Here to Email Go4Launch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm pretty sure these caps were indeed handed out on the recovery ships at the time. The ones in my collection came from someone who was aboard the ships for the recoveries and got them then. Maybe you don't see a lot of people wearing them because they were not part of a sailor's uniform?

Gonzo
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posted 01-17-2014 11:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gonzo   Click Here to Email Gonzo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Exactly, and I was going to say that earlier. You have to remember that the Navy personnel in the photos would be in uniform. I don't believe, unless special permission was granted, that they could wear these caps while in uniform. Plus, while on deck, in many cases, they probably wouldn't wear a cap at all!

Liembo
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posted 01-17-2014 12:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Liembo   Click Here to Email Liembo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This could be cinematic license or changes in code, but I watched the sci-fi movie "The Final Countdown" (1980) just the other day, and because I saw these caps on eBay I was noticing how many similar ("USS Nimitz") caps were worn by the crew on the ship (even on the bridge) in just about every scene involving crew members. While not empirical evidence, it seems like they can wear them on duty...

Based on the acting skills of some of them, I don't suspect they were cast or crew but actual Navy extras.

kosmo
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posted 01-17-2014 12:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kosmo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The above photo is dated 7/23/69, the day before recovery and the crew member is clearly on deck.

stsmithva
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posted 01-17-2014 01:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stsmithva   Click Here to Email stsmithva     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by kosmo:
This photo with text may shed some light on when these caps were produced

Thank you very much for showing that. It's great to see that style of cap being worn during the mission. (Love the 66 on the helicopter in the background.)

If anyone can find such a photo from 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, or 15, that would be icing on the cake.

ea757grrl
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posted 01-17-2014 03:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ea757grrl   Click Here to Email ea757grrl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As an FYI, Hornet's Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 cruise reports make mention of the caps and other souvenir items (mugs, postcards, etc), and says they were popular, with demand often exceeding supply.

Also keep in mind there were a lot of civilians aboard — from the television networks and Mutual Broadcasting System; contractors for Western Union International and General Electric, among others; members of the press pool; and a lot of NASA personnel. As civilians they could pretty much wear what they pleased, within limits.

By the way, for Apollo 12, Hornet's Supply Department ordered 1,000 Apollo 12 caps at $2.50 each from the C. Lloyd Johnson company of Long Beach, California. The special caps with gold braid (for the astronauts and VIPs?) came from the same source, but had to be special-ordered at $5.32 each.

stsmithva
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posted 01-17-2014 04:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stsmithva   Click Here to Email stsmithva     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ea757grrl:
By the way, for Apollo 12, Hornet's Supply Department ordered 1,000 Apollo 12 caps at $2.50 each from the C. Lloyd Johnson company of Long Beach, California.

In less than a day, cS members come through with a photo and specific details about how many were made!

ea757grrl
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posted 01-17-2014 04:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ea757grrl   Click Here to Email ea757grrl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As for Navy personnel being authorized to wear baseball caps while on duty, at least two pictures in Bob Fish's book "Hornet Plus Three" show no less a personage than Hornet commanding officer Capt. Carl Seiberlich wearing a specially-embroidered Hornet baseball cap while in his khaki work uniform; Hornet's Apollo 11 cruisebook also shows at least one sailor on duty wearing a baseball cap with his normal work uniform, too.

One more note of interest: The posted press photo from 23 July 1969 was taken as Hornet crewmembers repainted the flight deck markings. Capt. Seiberlich, who was very detail-oriented, wanted the ship to be in top condition for President Nixon's visit the next morning. According to one account, the paint was still just a tiny bit tacky when Marine One landed the morning of the 24th!

kosmo
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posted 01-19-2014 12:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kosmo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's a photo of Alan Shepard's Apollo 14 recovery cap, very similar to yours, i.e. face of cap has the same printing, except yours doesn't have the braiding on the bill. Probably the difference between VIP and non VIP.

kosmo
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posted 01-21-2014 04:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kosmo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Do crew caps (not astronaut caps) exist for Apollo 7, 8, 16, 17, Skylab 1, 2, 3, and the ASTP recoveries? If so do any cS members have any photos of them?

LM-12
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posted 04-16-2014 07:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
They can be seen very briefly in "Houston, We've Got A Problem," and even better in the last few minutes of "Moon Machines Part 4: The Lunar Module."

When did astronauts start wearing the recovery hats? Was it on Gemini 11? Any earlier photos?

4allmankind
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posted 05-13-2014 09:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 4allmankind   Click Here to Email 4allmankind     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation auctioned Bill Pogue's Skylab recovery worn cap. So that makes four that have come to public auction?

LM-12
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posted 06-06-2015 01:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by 4allmankind:
That makes four that have come to public auction?
This seems to be the Apollo 11 recovery cap worn by Neil Armstrong.

The item description mentions that the cap was first obtained from John Hirasaki. He was in the Mobile Quarantine Facility (MQF) with the crew for the trip back to Houston.

Paul78zephyr
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posted 06-25-2015 11:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A personal favorite of mine:

LM-12
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posted 06-25-2015 11:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gemini 11 photo S66-50752 is another good one. Any earlier cap photos?

Liembo
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posted 05-15-2017 02:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Liembo   Click Here to Email Liembo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here are some photos of a USS Ticonderoga - Apollo 17 wool cap made by Harvard Sports Headwear.

moorouge
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posted 05-26-2017 06:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA photo 69-H-452 shows Apollo 9 crew wearing recovery caps. Photo S-71-42090 shows Apollo 15 crew in caps.

Photo S69-53173 was taken during the flight back to Houston from Hickham AFB and shows members of the recovery team wearing what appear to be specially made caps for the occasion.

holcombeyates
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posted 07-02-2018 10:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for holcombeyates   Click Here to Email holcombeyates     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have finally managed to add a splashdown cap to my collection – they are great items.

I do have a couple of questions about the caps in general.

  1. How many were made for each mission?
  2. The photo below shows a jacket that accompanies the hat. This is the first time I have seen one of these jackets – can anyone advise any more information - how rare are they?


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