A Golden Moment

Al Bean Salutes the Flag with Pete Conrad reflected in his visor

Painting Completed 1999
17 x 16 inches, Textured Acrylic on Aircraft Board

At 1+02 (one hour + two minutes), my cuff checklist read, "flag deploy". Pete Conrad and I were on the timeline, so we headed back near the front leg of our lunar module.

The flag and two-section flagstaff were stowed inside a long, thin container bolted to the left side of the ladder we had earlier used to climb down to the lunar surface. This long container stored the Stars and Stripes attached to and folded down and around the upper section of the flagstaff. It would save valuable time planting it on the Moon.

Pete quickly unpacked the flagstaff's lower section and handed it to me. I grabbed my hammer and loped off to find a good spot. As Pete was withdrawing the upper section of the flagstaff and extending the flag, I was hammering the lower section into the Ocean of Storms. Once it was firmly driven into the dusty surface, Pete inserted the upper section. He then raised the extension bar along the top to hold the flag out in the airless environment of the Moon. But the bar didn't snap into place. Pete tried unsuccessfully several more times. With no other options and our expendables, oxygen, water and electrical power, being consumed at normal rates, Pete held our flag out with his left hand and said, "Okay, the flag is up. We hope everyone down there is a proud of it as we are to put it up."

The planting of the red, white and blue of the United States of America would be a shining moment for all six of our Apollo landing mission. I saluted. It was truly a golden moment for us.

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