I was born in 1961 and was 8 years old when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. Like a lot of kids my age at the time, I was fascinated with the space program, kept a scrapbook of articles from the magazines and watched all the launches on TV.
In 1984, I was hired out of college to work at McDonnell Douglas in Huntington Beach, Calif., where the third stage of the Saturn rockets used by the Apollo program were built. One day in 1999, I was sitting in the main lobby of the plant when an older man walked by. Right afterward the security guard asked if I knew who that was. I said I didn't because I didn't get a good look.
With a big smile the guard announced that was Pete Conrad, commander of the Apollo 12 mission and the third man to walk on the moon. He was an executive for Boeing in Space Programs and had his office in Huntington Beach.
At that time, my son was 12 and had a similar fascination with rockets and the Space Shuttle program. I thought that would be a great excuse to go to his office and meet him and ask for an autograph. Being married, raising three kids and working two jobs, I put the plan on the back burner. Less than six months later, I woke up and read in the newspaper that Conrad had tragically died in a motorcycle accident.