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  2007 Astronaut HOF Induction/Gala

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Author Topic:   2007 Astronaut HOF Induction/Gala
Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 05-05-2007 12:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This evening's Astronaut Scholarship Foundation gala honoring the 2007 inductees was a real night to remember. Here are just a few of the highlights... I hope others who were there will share their favorite memories, too. During the red carpet introductions, Scott Carpenter elicited a very warm round of applause and John Glenn received a standing ovation, as did Coats, Hawley and Hoffman.

At the front of the room, there was a memorial display with a wreath in memory of Wally Schirra.

Al Worden, who led part of the evening's festivities (ASF Executive Director Linn Leblanc and CNN's John Zarrella co-hosted) asked for everyone to observe a moment of silence and a well-edited video tribute to Schirra was shown. Worden then recounted Schirra's history with the turtles (reading from Schirra's own words) and his passion for gotchas. Worden commented that Schirra got one last gotcha, having the only good excuse for not being at the gala. He thought Schirra would want everyone there to have fun, and with that picked up with the regular program.

There were 16 or so former and active Astronaut Scholars in attendance. Worden invited them to the stage, giving each a chance to introduce themselves and share what they were doing now. They are a very impressive group.

Jayleen Guttromson, who was awarded the scholarship in 2003 through 2005 at Purdue University, and who now works at Johnson Space Center on the Extravehicular Mobility Units (spacesuits), spoke on behalf of the group about how the scholarship changed hers, and their lives.

Payload specialist Charlie Walker, always the gentleman, made a quick dash to the stage to ensure she had an escort back to her seat.

Perhaps the most memorable part of the evening and certainly the funniest came when it was time to pick the raffle winners for two Omega watches. Worden and James Lovell oversaw the drawing, while Linn Leblanc made sure that each ticket box was well shaken.

The first ticket chosen was for the ladies' Omega and the winner was: Pandora Crippen! Taking a page from Jon McBride, who at the last ASF event won an Omega and then gave it back to the Foundation to be auctioned on the spot, Pandora donated the watch to the ASF and the bidding began. Worden, Lovell and McBride (who Worden called to the stage) then launched into an impromptu auction, which at times was truly surreal as other astronauts entered the bidding (though not all of them: despite his best [and humorous] efforts, Worden was unable to get Buzz Aldrin to bid). When the dust settled, cS member Jerry Matulka won the diamond-studded watch for his wife, Mary, for a very generous bid of $10,000, a full scholarship!

It was almost predictable what would happen next. When Worden selected the winner of the Apollo 15 Anniversary Edition Omega and no sooner had Lovell read the name — veteran journalist Bill Larson — another auction began and another cS member, Leon Ford, took the watch for the high bid of $7500.

Omega's representative Chuck Biggs came on stage to present Worden with his own Omega, commemorating the 50th anniversary (to the day) of the first Omega Speedmaster. In addition to Jerry and Leon, I also saw cS readers and members Ken Schwartz (who very kindly invited me to sit at his firm's table), Eamonn and his fiancÚ (congrats!) Siobhan, Rob Joyner, Bill and Vicki O'Donnell, Martin Majer, Jim Rosenthal and Ben Cooper. I apologize if I have forgotten someone(s), as I know I most likely have.

MarylandSpace
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Posts: 961
From:
Registered: Aug 2002

posted 05-05-2007 10:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MarylandSpace   Click Here to Email MarylandSpace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you for the great report Rob. Wish I were there to enjoy the evening with you, my cS friends, the astronauts, and the ambiance of the evening.

Enjoy the induction ceremonies and the day at KSC. I am just imagining a day in the Florida sunshine.

Regards to all.

Garry

irish guy
Member

Posts: 277
From: Kerry Ireland
Registered: Dec 2001

posted 05-06-2007 02:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for irish guy   Click Here to Email irish guy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Greetings everyone from Brevard County. Just home from the Astronaut Gala and Induction.

First of all it was very different from my experiences of 2001 it was of course none the less a truly memorable weekend

Siobhan and I arrived early and had to wait an hour before registration on the evening of the gala. She was quite worried that her evening gown wasn't suitable for the visitor centre!!!

We had a lovely reception and were then bused to the Apollo Saturn Centre. We found ourselves seated beside a charming coupled and to add to my further amazement the table right beside were reserved for Robert Hoot Gibson and at the other side Jack Lousma.

To my delight my favorite astronaut Joe Allen would also be present that night. After a short while we got chatting with our dinner companions and were surprised to find that Bob and his lovely wife Barbara had an interesting connection with NASA. Bob humbly told us he trained most of the Gemini and Apollo astronauts in flight simulation.

Between dinner courses Bob invited us to join him on a mini tour to meet the astronauts. It was strange to see the astronauts standing to greet their old teacher.Some body pinch me am I dreaming, in the next 20 minutes we had introductions with Buzz Aldrin and his wife Lois, John and Annie Glenn, Al Worden, John McBride (who informed us he would be playing in the Irish Open in Adare, Co Limerick), Brian Duffy and his wife Jan, Guenter Wendt and his daughter Norma, Vance Brand, John Young.

We returned to our table and to my further astonishment , I say my childhood hero walking towards the table. It was Joe Allen. We introduced ourselves and he told us he had many close friends in Ireland and he chatted and took our photo with his camera!

We also exchanges pleasantries with Hoot Gibson, the dinner had got cold but who cared! We were in time for the desserts.

A fabulous night with fabulous people, as we were leaving we bumped into a smiling Bob Seick and his wife. We strolled out to the buses together chatting about his days in launch control. Another picture of course.

It was also wonderful to meet up with fellow CS members , Robert and Ben good to see you there. To those who couldn't make it, Gary I hope to see you there next year.

Wouldn't it be a good idea to take a table for next years gala well in advance and plan some activities?

Saturday we arrived back at the Kennedy Visitor Complex but it was difficult to get out to the Apollo Saturn Centre as the tour buses were the only way. It put serious time constraints on us. The induction ceremony was wonderful but didn't have the intimacy or the magic of the gala night.

What a wonderful weekend!!

Thanks Siobhan for Saying YES in the Apollo Saturn centre a few days previously. Hope we have many more adventures together.

Ben
Member

Posts: 1843
From: Daytona Beach, FL
Registered: May 2000

posted 05-06-2007 02:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ben   Click Here to Email Ben     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Eamonn it was great meeting you and Siobhan. And congratulations, you certainly chose the perfect place!

This was my first gala and it was wonderful; magical as you said above. The ceremony was the best I have seen so far, perhaps the particular astronauts who spoke this year just had great personalities and a good sense of humor.

It was nice to meet Tim Gagnon, Leon Ford, Rob Joyner, and of course Robert again. If I left anyone out please forgive me.

Rob Joyner
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Posts: 1292
From: GA, USA
Registered: Jan 2004

posted 05-06-2007 10:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rob Joyner   Click Here to Email Rob Joyner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's always nice to see Robert and my fellow cSers at this event. I'm thinking maybe if enough of us attend the autograph show next month we should all get together for at least a group photo. That would be quick and memorable and wouldn't take time away from our individual agendas. Who would be up for that?

This was my sixth ASF/AHOF induction weekend in a row and each one has been very special. This year I sat up near the stage literally right next to Jon McBride. The ASF must remember me by now because when I told one of the servers that I'm a vegetarian she replied that they already knew!

I want to thank Linn LeBlanc and her gang for another great evening. I think John Zarrella should always be the host for this event, (okay, Miles O'Brien could fill in from time to time or co-host!). Zarrella has been the Florida CNN correspondent since the early 80's and covered many space related news including Glenn's Discovery launch, (among many others) the Challenger disaster and the Mars Pathfinder mission. He loves this stuff as much as we do and does a fantastic job.

As Robert mentioned earlier, Al Worden led a moment of silence for Wally. The video was moving and Worden's recollections even more so. In closing Worden said that Wally would want everyone to have fun that night and he threw up his hands and said, "Okay, enough of that!" I'm sure Wally was smiling ear to ear.

When both watches were returned for auction McBride was asked up on stage by Worden because he had won the raffle last year and did the same thing. Wow! An extra $17,500 for the ASF worth almost two scholarships! That's fantastic! When Big Jon returned to his seat I told him I think he started a tradition! He said that it looked that way! Then he was kind enough to walk over with me and meet Owen Garriott, who signed his Skylab portrait photo for me. I've now met Big Jon four times, once with my parents, sisters and nephews. He's one heck of a nice guy, but then all of the astronauts are. Brian Duffy signed a photo for me and thanked 'me' for being there, just like Rick Hauck did at a previous Gala!

I first met John Glenn there in '03 and got a Friendship 7 bookpage signed. This year I finally got his Mercury portrait photo autographed and inscribed to me. It fits in very nicely with my Carpenter, Schirra & Cooper! I also got to meet again John Young and Buzz Aldrin. Buzz said he loved my space-themed necktie while pointing at it. Even his wife Lois commented that it was "very nice!" I guess that tie's a keeper!

Jerry Carr signed a Skylab bookpage and Guenter Wendt a Gemini intro page. If you ever get to speak with Wendt, then do so. He's has wonderful stories to tell.

I met and congratulated inductee Steve Hawley who signed the ASF program for me. And Charlie Duke, what a sweet guy. I met him before at a previous Gala when he signed an Apollo 16 bookpage and at the '04 Air & Space Show where he signed a portrait photo and also a full Moon poster. I told him so and he very graciously signed a fully inscribed B&W photo of him on the Moon for me!

Saturday I found that the KSCVC has been quite busy since I was there last September for the launch of STS-115 Atlantis. What once was the outside Astronaut Encounter area is now entirely fenced off from the entrance back to the IMAX theatre building. In fact, to get to the theatre you have to either go around the Space Shop to the right or left through the Rocket Garden entrance. You can see the area through the doors and windows of the Space Shop but right now it looks more like demolition site than a construction site! I wonder what's coming! And since the Shuttle Launch Experience simulator is almost ready to open that entire side has changed too. You can now actually walk from the bus area directly to it and the Shuttle Plaza, an area that used to be fenced off.

Last year I watched as Charlie Bolden was inducted into the AHOF and it was a great pleasure to meet him Saturday morning. As I was waiting in line, about three people back, a father was at the table with his little daughter, who was extremely shy and resorted to burying her face into the side of her father's pant leg! Bolden calmly talked to her and tried to guess her age. He asked her if she was seven, but got no response. Her father spoke for her and said she was six. Bolden spent some more time talking to her and finally got to shake hands with her and then everything was all right! And yes, you could hear a few endearing ah's from people waiting in line! He signed his portrait photo for me as well as another 8 X 10, a shuttle launch photo previously signed by Duffy a few years ago. Bolden said since he flew with Duffy on one mission he'd sign near his autograph. Bolden also included the four missions on which he flew and afterward I got a photo with him.

Later I took the bus out to the Apollo/Saturn V Center. Thankfully, the line for Jim Lovell's 'Apollo 13' book signing wasn't too long when I got there as I had forgotten that the bus takes you to the viewing gantry first. I got a few photos of Lovell and got in line. This was only my second time meeting Lovell. He signed the book to me and I luckily got a photo with him behind the table. Just before I approached the table I heard one of the staff say to another that all photos would have to taken in front of the table in order to help move things along. Whew! Not bad. A Lovell autograph, a book and a photo with him for only about $28! Now that's a bargain, but then again, he's getting most of my money at the autograph show next month!

The ceremony was perfect as usual. Worden & Zarrella took the stage and did a great job, just as the night before when the Astronaut Scholars, current and former, joined Worden on stage and were a glimpse of our future, each one of them very deserving of the scholarship they received. Worden said that it's the ASF's goal to award a scholarship for each astronaut in the Astronaut Hall of Fame. There are now 66, and that means there's a lot more donations needed to reach that goal. Log onto astronautscholarship.org to make a tax deductible contribution and pass it along to all you know.

I swear John Young could become a headlining stand-up comic. His deadpan delivery of actually funny stuff is truly remarkable. He, Joe Allen & Dan Brandenstein were absolutely great, telling some very funny stories about the inductees Coats, Hawley & Hoffman. Each of the inductees were very sincere, with a bit of levity thrown in now and then. But I suppose the most moving of the three was Steve Hawley. He flew in space five times and got scrubbed about twelve other times. He said his parents came to KSC often for his launches only to go back home many times without seeing him launch because of a scrub. Hawley then said that because they were unable to travel like before his parents couldn't be there for the ceremony. Knowing that NASA was broadcasting the ceremony on live TV, Hawley looked directly into the camera and thanked his parents who he said were watching at home. To me, that's a big part of being the Right Stuff.

The night before at the Gala, I asked Jon McBride what the astronauts did while waiting in the wings to get introduced in that classic red carpet style at the beginning of the evening. Well, it seems that they're all back there having loads of fun and often have to be prompted to get out to the red carpet! I told him that there should be a photographer back there with them to capture all of that. Big Jon thought that was a good idea. He went on to say that there's never any other time but this event when so many astronauts are in the same room together at one time and that he enjoys these weekends as much as anyone else, astronaut or not, because the astronauts just can't make the time to see and visit with each other as they would like.

These astronauts, these people, didn't sing or dance for a living. They weren't movie or TV stars either. And they didn't wrestle with a mask on or play professional sports. These people put their lives on the line hopefully for the betterment of us all.

These people are my heroes. Real heroes. I have to agree with Big Jon - Where else can you go and shake hands with the likes of John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Charlie Duke, Ed Mitchell, Jim Lovell, Buzz Aldrin, Fred Haise, John Young, Bob Crippen & Al Worden, just to name a few, in just one night?

It was a fantastic weekend at KSC and I'm looking forward to the show there next month. I hope you are too.

Rob

KSCartist
Member

Posts: 2488
From: Titusville, FL USA
Registered: Feb 2005

posted 05-07-2007 03:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Rob-

The group photo idea is a great one. I guess I'll have to get my order in for a cS shirt.

I was there on Saturday sitting in the "cheaper" seats. Since my daughter was married last month, my discrecionary spending is down right now. I did get to have Jim Lovell sign his book for Bryan. (I already have it) and I can't add any more to your report than that.

I wore a "loud and proud" hawaiian shirt in honor of Wally Schirra and made up a little "are you a turtle?" tribute card which I hung from my collar.

I printed up a couple of "polished" cartoons which you'll find on page 3 of the Schirra thread/ Since I wasn't a VIP I asked Jay Barbree to give them to John Glenn and Scott Carpenter. I just wanted them to have an expression of my condolences on the loss of their friend.

I didn't score any autographs because the astros who were signing, I already had. But I did get a photo of me with Jon McBride and I got to show him his note in response to my letter from 1985 when I had asked him if I could design the STS-61E patch.

As usual the folks from the ASF/HOF and Delaware North did an outstanding job. I need to start saving up for next year.

It was great to see Robert and I got to meet Ben our resident photographer. When he introduced himself to me I blurted out "my God your young!" Sorry Ben. Folks I've got to tell you meeting Ben makes his talent that much more impressive. When we return to the Moon he'll be our Ralph Morse.

Tim

FFrench
Member

Posts: 3093
From: San Diego
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 05-08-2007 08:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Some nice stories about the event shared in this AP story too:
www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18511319/

Leon Ford
Member

Posts: 309
From: Shreveport, LA, United States
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 05-09-2007 10:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Leon Ford   Click Here to Email Leon Ford     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just wanted to take a moment to thank Linn and Dee at the ASF for a fantastic AHOF weekend. The Gala and the induction could not have been better and these two wonderful ladies are the ones to thank. Everything seemed to go off without a hitch.

Thank you for a great time and I am really looking forward to UACC show in June!!! Can't wait to see what the ASF has in store for those of us coming down for the show!!!

See you soon,

Leon

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