Breaking News
More () »

Where were you? East Tennesseans share memories of Apollo 11

50 years after the moon landing, the memories are still fresh for many who watched it happen.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — You can share your memories of the Apollo 11 launch or landing and read more stories here.

10News will air a special celebrating East Tennessee's connection to the Apollo mission on July 16 at 5:30 p.m.

On July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 mission launched 3 astronauts into space, headed for the moon. 

50 years later, people around the globe remember that historic moment, whether they saw it on TV, heard it on the radio or watched it in person. 

Essie Johnson, a resident of Knoxville High Senior Living, is 75 years old. She was at home in Memphis with her two-month-old baby in July 1969.

"The moon landing was something that we'd never had, and we were all excited about it," she said. "Everybody was excited about it."

Johnson says she remembers watching TV all day leading up to the big moment.

"If you were home, doing whatever you were doing, you had it turned on and you were looking at it all day long," she said. "It was one of the few times we had something like that that lasted all day."

She says the live coverage was endless, with different reporters talking about what time the launch would happen, how many people were there to see it and where the astronauts would land on the moon.

"I know I was watching all day long, because we were anticipating it."

Johnson says there were days of excitement leading up to the launch, and she watched every minute of the coverage "and prayed the whole time."

"We were thinking 'oh, they're going up. Is it going to be safe? Are they going to get there? Is it going to happen?'" she said. "It was one of the few. One of the first."

She said friends were calling her house to talk about what they were seeing on TV.

"Oh, we all knew it was a big deal. It was the biggest deal." she said. "We knew it was a part of history. We knew it was history in the making."

Lucinda Johnson listened to the Apollo 11 launch on the radio. She says she was at her father's office in Loudon. 

"I remember that I was excited," she said. "But I was young and I was more interested in what was going on down on the street."

She says later seeing astronauts walk on the moon was astonishing.

Ann Williams watched the moon landing at a Lutheran church in Arden, North Carolina. She says everyone from small children to older church members got together to see it.

"It was a kind of joyous experience that I will always remember," she said.

"I just remember the event and the awe-inspiring feeling it gave all of us.And doing it as a community was what really was good."

Williams says she never worried that something would go wrong with the landing. She remembers people cheering and clapping when the astronauts took those first steps on the moon.

Bill Johnson watched the launch and the landing at home in Humboldt, Tennessee with his wife and three children. 

"I think amazement is the word that comes to mind for me," he said. 

Bob Christie watched the moon landing with his fellow soldiers in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. They were on their way to Vietnam.

"I think even then, in 1969, we were aware that it was extremely historical and that it had started a new age," he said. "I saw the guys coming down with no gravity, or very little gravity. They just floated down that ladder. It was exciting."

Ron Ridenour saw the landing at his home in Bradford, Pennsylvania. He says it made him think immediately of his fourth grade teacher.

"I had a Captain Marvel comic book hidden behind my geography book, and she caught me and said 'People are never going to space,'" he said. "Well, she was right when I was in fourth grade. Between then and 1969, a lot of things happened."

You can share your memories of the Apollo 11 launch or landing and read more stories here. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out