Monday, September 3, 2007

I Was There!

Posted: , Forums, Life, Sun Sep 02, 2007 8:38 pm Post subject: I Was There!

Ref: “Veteran NBC reporter’s book recalls 50 years of space flight”

Veteran NBC space correspondent Jay Barbree’s memoir, ‘Live from Cape Canaveral,’ is being released over the Labor Day weekend by Smithsonian Books.

‘”There are an awful lot of guys…who were here for the early days and they’re no longer here,’ Barbree, 73, said recently at the Kennedy Space Center…’ “

I was a photographer for NASA, at Cape Canaveral, during those early years.

Of the three tragedies, the Apollo spacecraft fire in 1967 hit him hardest…”

That was my area, LC-34. I was the only photographer specifically stationed there, with a desk inside the block house. I was assigned to stay overtime that late afternoon, to provide motion picture coverage of the astronauts and the test going on, Apollo 1, Jan 27, 1967. As I was about to gather up my camera and equipment; I was told, at the last minute, to ’forget about staying overtime, because they couldn’t get any light up there.’ So, I left the space center proceeding to drive home, but first I stopped at a local bowling alley, in Cocoa Beach. It was there I heard the announcement that the command module had blown up inside, killing all three astronauts, Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee.

Later, on July 16,1969; as Spacecraft Photographer, NASA had me taking pictures inside the command module of Apollo 11, just moments before the astronauts boarded, and blasted off toward making the 1st lunar landing.

Donald Cole
Dover, NJ

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