Cassi Creek: I recall the moon race, from the first glimpse of Sputnik as it slid rapidly across the night sky; to the final landing and de-activation of the Apollo program.
It was an era of science in ascendancy. The Cold War and space race had gotten warmer for some of us. For those of us in the shooting side of the festivities, we were mostly concerned with shorter range, explosive ballistics rather than the elegant multi-stage vehicular payloads that were designed and engineered to carry and protect humans. But our need for accuracy in our calculations and delivery were equally as critical as were the NASA calculations.
We used slide rules, maps, and grid coordinates to determine our position and to indicate to the men who crewed the guns where we needed them to put their ordnance. We adjusted or corrected impact by visually observing the shot and estimating how much corrective distance was required to keep some other mother’s son from going home again.
The 20th of July 1969 was the first moon landing. It is impossible to describe the excitement. It was celebrated around the world. Even the troops in VietNam were treated to views of the televised landing on the AFVN network. At least the troops in the larger camps had the opportunity to see Armstrong step onto the moon’s surface. I had just come inside the wire and was cleaning my weapon when I first saw the video feed of the landing. Down the road, about 2 kilometers, was a fire support base. It had occupied that location for several days. As the moon landing was played for the more fortunate troops, the men on the FSB pumped out a string of fire missions, dropping artillery shells onto various targets.
To this day, I am unable to separate the sound of outgoing artillery from the moon landing.
My descendants and their peers have never known that degree of anticipation and excitement that the Apollo missions generated. Once upon a time men named Armstrong and Shepard, among others, trod upon the moon.