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‘Something we’d never dreamed we’d see’: Great Falls residents recall memories of Apollo 11

Posted: 11:32 AM, Jul 21, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-21 13:46:03-04

The date was July 20, 1969 — a day many would remember the rest of their lives.

American astronauts went to the moon and walked on the surface for the first time.

Great Falls residents recall where they were on this date, 50 years ago.

Jesse OIdham was 9 years old and remembers his family all jumping in the car to head to their grandparent’s house to watch it on their colored television.

“Our family was always watching the rocket launches and everything from the space program,” Jesse recalled. “So when the moon shot happened, that was kind of like the pinnacle of everything.”

Katrina Stark was 11 years old and lived in Orlando, Florida, at the time. She said they could actually feel the rockets take off.

Katrina said, “When Walter Cronkite would do his countdown to take off, as soon as he would hit, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, we have liftoff,’ my mother would count to five, and we’d run out into the street where we could actually feel the rockets through the ground, and then we could see them all the way up to the first stage separating.”

John Rummel was 21 years old and was at an Air Force base near Qui Nhon, Vietnam. He remembers being in the mess hall and the radio broadcast coming over the speakers.

“The place got very quiet, everybody listening,” John recalled.

People all around the world were watching the historic moment.

Katrina said, “My parents said, ‘Girls, girls! Get out of the pool! This is history, you’re going to see man walk on the moon, something we’d never dreamed we’d see!’”

All three people, living in three different worlds, remembered the history of the moment.

“To watch it and see Neil Armstrong come down the ladder, to hear the radio transmission, the Houston Tranquility base, ‘The Eagle has landed,’ you know, that’s pretty awesome to be able to remember that,” Jesse said.

John remembers this same moment very clearly. He said, “What I remember most is them saying, ‘And the Eagle has landed.’ Everybody in the mess hall, very excited, including me. It was a huge thing that had happened.”

All recalled Neil Armstrong’s famous words on that day as well: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Jesse remembers the whole event just being so exciting. “I don’t know how it could be anything but that,” he added.

Katrina said looking back now all these years later, she still gets a thrill.