Lone Star

Pete Conrad watches Al throw his pin

Painting Completed 2000
22 x 33 inches, Textured Acrylic on Aircraft Board

Some months after I had reported to the manned spacecraft center in Houston, Texas, I was given a silver astronaut pin to wear in my lapel. It was a shooting star with an orbit around its tail. I wore that pin proudly until November of 1969, when Pete Conrad, Dick Gordon and I climbed into our Apollo 12 spacecraft for our flight to the Moon. I had my silver pin tucked safely in the left tight pocket of my white spacesuit, and it was still safely inside my pocket as I descended the lunar module ladder for my first steps on the Ocean of Storms.

As soon as I learned to stand and walk in the light gravity, I moved just outboard of the left leg for our lunar module, to the lip of a large crater. On the far wall I could see the Surveyor III unmanned spacecraft that had landed in this lonely crater some 31 months earlier. We had made a pinpoint landing.

Oh so carefully, I removed my silver pin, took one last look at it, and gave it my strongest underarm toss out toward Surveyor. I can still remember how it flashed in the bright sunlight then disappeared in the distance. It was the only star I ever saw up in the black sky, the sunlight was just too bright on the Moon's surface to see any of the others. I often think of my silver pin resting in the dust of Surveyor Crater, just as bright and shiny as it ever was. It'll be there for millions and millions of years or until some tourists finds it and brings it back to Earth.

I wear a similar gold astronaut pin on my lapel now, signifying that I am a flight astronaut, having flown above 50 miles from Earth. That pin made the trip to the lunar surface with me, too, neatly tucked inside a different pocket.

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