It was 50 years ago today that mankind’s journey to setting foot on the moon began with the launch of Apollo 11.
As Americans commemorate the 50 anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 launch, an Erie man shares his special connection to the men who first landed on the moon.
Jerry Dunn said he never considered himself to be a historical figure, but now he looks back at the role he played during the Apollo 11 recovery mission and thinks of himself as part of American history.
“Apollo 11 means that once we set a goal as a county, we can obtain anything that we set our minds too,” said Jerry Dunn, Marine Corpsman.
Many Americans remember the Apollo 11 mission as a historic moment in time. Jerry Dunn remembers it as a significant and unforgettable experience.
Dunn helped get Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins out of the water after the Apollo 11 splash landed in the Pacific Ocean.
“They brought them back aboard, put them on the carrier there, and because I was on the flight deck, I was probably fifteen to twenty yards away from them. When they came to the window, I actually have home movies of them waving at me,” said Dunn.
While Dunn crossed paths with three of America’s most influential figures, he said the full weight of that experience didn’t hit him until much later in life.
“You don’t realize it at the time, because when your out there, you’re doing this, you’re doing your job, whatever is expected of you, and you’re doing the jobs your expected to do,” said Dunn.
Dunn said out of the 2000 crew members aboard the ship that recovered the astronauts, he was the only one from the Erie area. Fifty years later, Dunn said people can still learn from the Apollo 11 mission.
“I think it’s important to set a goal, obtain the goal, and then you can prove that you can actually accomplish something,” said Dunn.
Dunn was also part of the recovery team for Apollo 12, which launched in November of 1969.