TWO SENIORS IN THEIR 90s SHARE MEMORIES OF WORK ON THE NASA MOON LANDING PROJECT
LONGVIEW, Texas, July 16, 2013: “One small step for man, one giant step for mankind” were the words spoken by Mission Commander Neil Armstrong as he took his first step on the moon’s surface on July 20,1969. Since that mission, 43 years have passed and two men that were a part of the NASA project still think about it to this day. 95-year-old Patrick Dugan and 90-year-old Robert Embrey, residents at Buckner Westminster Place, have exceptional stories about their experiences partnering with NASA to help accomplish one of the biggest feats for mankind. Dugan would assist with building the vehicles that brought man from the mother ship to the moon and back to the mother ship. Embrey’s company would build many of the machinery tools that it took to build Apollo 11.
“It was fantastic; you really cannot describe the feeling. We just went wild when the Lunar Module 5 (LM 5) landed,” expressed Dugan, a former employee of Grumman Aerospace. “The LM 5, also known as the Eagle, is extremely complicated and was built in two parts, the descend stage and the ascend stage. The descend stage brought them from the mother ship down to the moon, and the ascend stage brought them from the moon back up to the mother ship. The descend stage was left on the moon, and the ascend stage was left in space. The other engineers at Grumman Aerospace and I were happy to know that we had developed a safe vehicle.”
Dugan worked for Grumman Aerospace for 33 years and spent nine of those years working on the NASA project. He was a structural engineer, having started in design and worked his way up. Building the LM 5 was a challenge, and the engineers worked at it from day to day. Eventually they fired up the vehicle in White Sands, New Mexico, where they were able to simulate the moon’s atmosphere.
“People did not think it would be possible to design something on Earth and have it work in the moon’s atmosphere,” shared Dugan. “There was a lot of suspicion leading up to the journey and once we achieved our goal people could not stop buzzing about it! It was truly a gigantic feat and I am so proud to have been a part of it. This was the epitome of my success and the experience of a lifetime. Each year on July 20 I reflect on these cherished memories and this accomplishment for mankind. The mission taught us about atmospheric conditions on other planets. My advice for today’s engineers, astronauts and for NASA – Never give up.”
Embrey owned a company called Remco Inc. in Shreveport, Louisiana, that was responsible for building many different parts that NASA engineers had structured for Apollo 11. There were numerous small businesses that were making parts for the hardware that would take astronauts and scientists to the moon. Companies signed up to be on the bidders list, NASA would send drawings and submissions to the companies, the companies would then send a quote to NASA, and NASA would select the lowest bidders to make the parts.
“Many of the parts were challenging to build; it was not a quick process,” said Embrey, owner of Remco Inc. “Some of the parts took several weeks to build. After we made the machinery tools that they needed, we would inspect it twice and then NASA would send out inspectors to make sure the parts were like they were supposed to be. Approximately 80 percent of the costs that went into the space program went toward quality control. NASA wanted to make sure they built a safe rocket.”
NASA had set up the rocket in New Orleans, where engineers were assembling all of the parts and equipment. Embrey made many trips to New Orleans to deliver completed parts. He was fascinated when he saw the rocket and the progress that the engineers had made. One of the parts they were responsible for building was the “blind club,” but Embrey had no idea what they used it for or where it went. Embrey and his employees felt good about their work for NASA and were proud that their parts worked out and that the astronauts safely executed the mission. They worked on the project for three years.
“To me it was a real accomplishment, as the mission itself revolutionized the machine tool industry,” expressed Embrey. “Many new parts were developed for Apollo 11 and today those same parts are commonplace. The mission also revolutionized the medical industry, medical materials, hardware materials, the weightless proposition, national defense tactics, and the development of computers. The United States is a great country and can do anything despite any challenges we face, because the people that live here have a strong motivation to succeed.”
Embrey’s advice for today’s engineers, astronauts, NASA and the people of America in general is to focus on getting a higher education. Embrey said that great things are made possible by those who work hard for them and are intelligent.
“It is fascinating to hear history relived through the memories of the residents that reside at Buckner Westminster Place,” shared Wes Wells, executive director at Buckner Westminster Place. “When you think of the historical account of man landing on the moon, you do not necessarily think of all the companies and people that NASA employed to make the mission possible. It is an extraordinary moment when you can hear firsthand what it was like being a part of a project that forever changed the reputation of the country in which we live. Many of the residents have personal accounts of historical events that are worth sharing and speaking about.”
If you are interested in scheduling an interview with Patrick Dugan and/or Robert Embrey, please call Lauren Witt (214) 890-7912 ext. 42 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT BUCKNER WESTIMINSTER PLACE
Buckner Westminster Place, a Buckner Retirement Services community, is a non-profit, faith-based senior living community offering 89 independent living apartments and patio homes for active adults aged 62 and above. In addition, the community offers a continuum of care including 30 assisted living apartments, 25 memory care support residences and 20 private bedrooms in the Green House® homes for skilled nursing care. Buckner Westminster Place is the only complete CCRC (continuing care retirement community) in Longview which accommodates these four levels of living and care as residents’ needs change.
Located near the Longview Mall and just minutes from area medical centers, Buckner Westminster Place gives residents a beautiful way to live. The community includes a 16-acre lakeside setting with walking trails and spacious well-manicured grounds.
Residents can enjoy delicious dining and warm fellowship in beautifully arranged dining rooms. The community also has an on-site life enrichment coordinator, chapel, full-time chaplain, on-site worship services, beauty/barber salon and weekly housekeeping/linen service.
A partnership with the Good Shepherd Institute for Healthy Living gives residents and staff access to a wellness center that includes classrooms, a resistance pool, a track and exercise equipment. The community provides transportation to the wellness center.
For more information about Buckner Westminster Place, please visit the community website at www.bucknerwestminster.org or call Blake Lambert at (903) 252-6736.
ABOUT BUCKNER RETIREMENT SERVICES
Buckner Retirement Services, Inc. is one of the largest not-for-profit senior living organizations in Texas dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for senior adults and their families by promoting an active, healthy Christian lifestyle while maintaining their independence and dignity. Buckner Retirement Services is part of Buckner International, a global faith-based ministry serving more than 470,000 people each year in the United States and 18 countries worldwide.