On Wednesday, April 20, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Apollo 16. On that day, fifty years ago, Astronauts Charlie Duke and John Young successfully landed their lunar module on the moon, while Ken Mattingly orbited the moon in the command module. In honor of this mission, we held the Apollo to Artemis dinner underneath the Saturn V in The Davidson Center for Space Exploration. Brig. Gen. Charlie Duke was our guest of honor at the event, and it was an honor to have spent time with him and his wife, Dotty, during their trip to Huntsville.
Brig Gen, USAF, Ret. Charlie Duke in front of the Casper Capsule used in the Apollo 16 mission
My time with the Dukes was nothing short of amazing. I enjoyed everything from picking them up at the airport when they arrived in town, to hearing all of Charlie’s stories from his mission. I was just over the moon (pun intended) with joy the entire time they were here. I had the honor of introducing Charlie to about 100 Space Camp trainees, which I was very nervous about. Dotty being the sweet person she is, grabbed my hands and began praying for peace and confidence over me. A moment I will NEVER forget.
The Main Event: Celebrating Apollo 16
Throughout the rest of the day, Charlie had a few speaking engagements with local media groups and photo sessions. The Apollo 16 capsule ‘Casper’ displayed at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center was the perfect back drop. Then it was time for the big dinner. When I picked Charlie and Dotty up at their hotel, they were dressed to the nine’s and looked so dapper. Charlie showed off his Texas pride with a state flag bow tie and cummerbund. He looked amazing! The dinner turned out to be an amazing event. It highlighted the accomplishments of the Apollo program while discussing the plans for the next Moon program, Artemis.
Charlie Duke and I looking dapper at the 50th Anniversary Dinner for the Apollo 16 mission
My time with Charlie and Dotty and their family was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I know I have lifelong friends that came from this experience and stories to tell for many years to come!