Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. If you are out admiring the moon tonight and find yourself wondering just where “the Eagle has landed,” look towards the southwest edge of Mare Tranquillitatis — the Sea of Tranquility. More specifically, this map I came across this map today (featured image above, signed by several Apollo crew members) shows us where that is.
While we are on the subject, a few things you may or may not have known about the Apollo 11 astronauts: Before becoming the first human to set foot on the moon, Neil Armstrong was a Naval aviator, flying 78 combat missions in Korea. On an armed reconnaissance mission southwest of Wonson, a cable (which the North Koreans would string up as booby traps for U.S. pilots) sheared six feet off his wing during a bombing run, causing Armstrong to limp his mortally wounded F9F Panther back to friendly skies in South Korea. The future astronaut bailed out over the water, which it turns out had been mined, but the winds blew him safely into a rice paddy.
Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins both attended the U.S. Military Academy before accepting commissions in the Air Force (the Air Force Academy wasn’t established until 1954). Aldrin flew 66 combat missions during the Korean War and shot down two enemy MiGs. He earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses during his time in uniform; his citations can be read here and here.
Collins just missed Korea, but, like Aldrin, flew F-86 Sabres before becoming an astronaut. He ultimately reached the rank of major general, following the family tradition of becoming a flag officer. His father, Maj. Gen. James Lawton Collins, served during the Philippine-American War (where he was aide-de-campe to Gen. John J. Pershing), the Punitive Expedition into Mexico, and both World Wars. Uncle, Gen. J. Lawton Collins, commanded VII Corps during the Normandy Invasion and was Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Older brother, Brig. Gen. James Lawton Collins Jr., served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. All Collinses are graduates of West Point.