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  Moon Men Return: USS Hornet and Recovery of the Apollo 11 Astronauts

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Author Topic:   Moon Men Return: USS Hornet and Recovery of the Apollo 11 Astronauts
cspg
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posted 10-29-2009 01:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Moon Men Return: USS Hornet and the Recovery of the Apollo 11 Astronauts
by Scott W. Carmichael I have contacted the publisher to obtain a product description - apparently they're in the process of writing it.

ea757grrl
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posted 10-29-2009 04:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ea757grrl   Click Here to Email ea757grrl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very intriguing -- the more books on the subject, the better.

On the other hand, I hope they use a different picture of Hornet on the finished cover. That's a mid-1950s view of Hornet, after her SCB-27A modernization but prior to her SCB-125 refit; notice she still has her axial flight deck and open bow.

There are some great pictures of Hornet taken late in her career out there that are available through the National Archives (there's an especially lovely picture of her headed out for Apollo 12 that's out there), so I hope the folks at USNI will correct the cover before it gets released.

cspg
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posted 10-30-2009 12:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Many thanks to George Keating from the US Naval Institute Press for forwarding the following book description:
Moon Men Return: USS Hornet and the Recovery of the Apollo 11 Astronauts
By Scott W. Carmichael

The splashdown and recovery of Apollo 11 on 24 July 1969 was a historic event, which fulfilled President John F. Kennedy’s national goal of placing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth by the end of the 1960s. This book tells the dramatic story of the USS Hornet’s recovery of the astronauts after the splashdown of their command module. This detailed account draws not only on historical records but also on the memories of eighty men who served aboard the Hornet and participated in the recovery operation, including Navy UDT frogman John M. Wolfram, who was the first to reach the Apollo II astronauts. Their inside account offers deck-level perspectives of events and includes details never before documented for the public. Their stories reveal that although the recovery operation looked easy and uneventful, there were many problems to overcome. For example, a machinist’s mate had to repair a broken propeller shaft while the ship was underway so the Hornet could reach the point of splashdown on time; storms forced the ship to navigate by dead reckoning placing it miles away from its destination just minutes before Apollo came down; and a HS-4 helicopter narrowly avoided colliding with the command module due to heavy cloud cover. Yet, according to the author, the VIPs on the Hornet never suspected anything amiss.

In addition to these behind-the-scenes stories, the book includes a never before published photograph of the Apollo 11 command module as it splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. Previously known only to those associated with the Navy SEAL who took the photo, the author established its authenticity through interviews with those on the helicopter and those who processed the photograph on the Hornet. Other photographs not previously released to the public, including surface-level photos taken by UDT swimmers during the recovery procedure are also among the illustrations displayed in the book.

Scott W. Carmichael is the senior security and counterintelligence investigator for the Defense Intelligence Agency and also with the Department of Defense for nearly thirty years. He is the author of True Believer and lives in Crofton, MD.

Lasv3
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posted 10-30-2009 02:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lasv3   Click Here to Email Lasv3     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for this post, it seems to be another excellent book on the mankind's historical space mission!

MMRauthor
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posted 11-09-2009 06:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MMRauthor   Click Here to Email MMRauthor     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Former XO Chris Lamb served as mentor and guide during the research and writing phase of this book project, to ensure accuracy, etc. Chris passed away on 06 March 09, but did read the draft manuscript and described it as 'a magnificent masterpiece' and 'brilliant' - high praise. Former UDT frogman John M. Wolfram was my childhood friend, whose contribution consisted principally of inspiration plus a bit of advice. Glad to answer any questions.

SpaceAholic
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posted 11-09-2009 07:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Scott, does your book report the number of main parachute canopies (if any) that were recovered (and their condition/post-flight disposition) by the UDT personnel?

MMRauthor
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posted 11-09-2009 12:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MMRauthor   Click Here to Email MMRauthor     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
None were recovered. Swim ONE arrived on scene prior to splashdown and followed the CM down, but the CM rolled over into a Stable 2 configuration, as you probably know, so the helo hovered until the CM righted. By the time other helos arrived, with swim teams, the chutes had already sunk out of sight. Swim ONE did recover an apex cover, sometime after the recovery was executed, but that's it.

John Charles
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posted 11-09-2009 08:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John Charles     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Scott, I am looking forward to buying and reading your book, not least because (if I understand correctly) you tell of Dr. Bill Carpenter's involvement as Apollo 11 flight surgeon. I have had the privilege of getting to know Bill lately, and really should turn on a tape recorder whenever I see him just to capture his fascinating stories.

MMRauthor
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posted 11-10-2009 07:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MMRauthor   Click Here to Email MMRauthor     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great guy. Still very active - did he tell you that he still goes snow-boarding with his grandkids? They call him Gray on a Tray. I included in the book a story about Dr. Carpentier training with the swimmers prior to recovery, in which he dropped approximately 100 feet from a helo into the drink. The swimmers remember that incident clearly, to this day, and thought he was a goner. Bill might have been stunned by the impact, but he simply bounced back. He's a real mensch.

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posted 11-16-2009 03:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ScotCar   Click Here to Email ScotCar     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I thought there would be greater interest in the discovery of a splashdown photo. The splashdown of Apollo 11 marked that moment when President Kennedy's expressed national goal of placing a man on the moon before the decade was out, and returning him safely to earth, was achieved. Until now - some 40 years after the event - no photo of that return/splashdown was known to exist. This is a very historic (if poor quality) photo. Is there really no curiosity about it? I can tell you that Buzz Aldrin just loved it.

markcant
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posted 12-28-2009 03:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for markcant   Click Here to Email markcant     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just interviewed John Wolfram for an article I'm writing for Military Officer magazine. It'll cover astronaut recovery from Mercury on through the Shuttle era and the early training that's being done for Constellation. He didn't mention anything about the near-collision between the helo and command module. Would be interested in learning more about that.

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posted 12-31-2009 11:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MMRauthor   Click Here to Email MMRauthor     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
John was on board Swim TWO. Swim ONE was the helo which nearly collided with Columbia prior to splashdown. Piloted by Don Richmond, whom I interviewed circa July 2007. Don provided an audiotape of his internal comms.

In short, as soon as the emergency beacon began to broadcast, all HS-4 helos dropped altitude to gain speed and began to vector toward the CM. Don recalled that he was red-lining it. His SARAH technician provided direction in a very calm manner.

His technician later told Don that the signal strength from Columbia was apparently much weaker than the signal strength from beacons used for training, and that he therefore assumed that the CM was quite some distance away from the helo, so he provided no warning to Don that they were closing on the target. Don was flying in/out of clouds. He emerged from a cloud to find his windscreen filled with the CM suspended from its chutes.

He approximated that he was no more than 1,000 yards from the CM and closing at 160+ mph. He instantly banked to avoid the collision, and just made it. The astronauts never knew, as the side crew hatch happened to be facing the other direction.

Don recalled screaming 'Aw, ****!' when he emerged from that cloud, but on tape it sounds like someone swallowing a chicken.

LTJG John McLachlan's 3-man UDT-12 team was on board Don's helo. Mitch Bucklew, the UDT/SEAL swimmer who took the splashdown photo, had a vivid memory of the moment when Don banked around the CM, as he flew across the interior of the aircraft.

Had Don clipped a riser or a chute, the flight of Apollo 11 would have ended quite tragically. Say hello to John for me. We're old childhood friends.

FFrench
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posted 12-31-2009 01:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Different flight, but similar story from Apollo 15 astronaut Jim Irwin's autobiography "To Rule The Night" and splashdown:

"We just about hit one chopper as it moved beneath us. All of a sudden the pilot looked up as we came out of a cloud right above him."

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-07-2010 04:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Washington Times: Plucking astronauts from the sea
Review by Vice Admiral Robert Dunn, Naval Historical Foundation
While the first chapters are somewhat difficult to read because of the detail, they do provide a valuable repository of important history: history of space flight, history of the United States Navy and the history of the USS Hornet.

micropooz
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posted 07-12-2010 06:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
U.S. Navy Memorial reading and book signing
Moon Men Return: USS Hornet and the Recovery of the Apollo 11 Astronauts

Tuesday, July 13th, 12:00 noon

Part of the Navy Memorial's Authors on Deck series of Navy-related book lectures, Scott W. Carmichael will present his new book Moon Men Return: USS Hornet and the Recovery of the Apollo 11 Astronauts, which tells the dramatic story of the USS Hornet's recovery of the astronauts after the splashdown of their command module. The presentation by the author will be followed by a book signing and Q&A period.

golddog
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posted 07-13-2010 02:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for golddog     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is that true what it says on the Times article, that they are going to scrap the Hornet?

That would be a travesty.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-13-2010 03:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Washington Times seems to have recycled an old caption. As the review itself states toward the end, the USS Hornet is now an established museum.

ea757grrl
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posted 09-22-2010 04:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ea757grrl   Click Here to Email ea757grrl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It took me long enough, but I finally got my copy of this book today. I couldn't put it down.

There's a *lot* of information and detail in this book, including many, many behind-the-scenes stories and some priceless anecdotes. I have the post-recovery reports and they're dry reading, but Carmichael gives them life, and that's no small accomplishment. You get a vivid story of a ship, squadrons, crewmembers, swim teams and NASA personnel performing a vital but often overlooked mission.

If you read "Hornet Plus Three" by Bob Fish and wanted to know more, then "Moon Men Return" is an outstanding companion volume. It's not perfect; there are a few tiny things I wish had been caught in proofing, but nevertheless it's awful darn good. If the recovery phase of spaceflight interests you, you'll want this book. Highly recommended.

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