- Letters to the Editor
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Upon visiting the Columbia Memorial Space Center I saw an Apollo space capsule in an outdoor display. I have a little information that might be interesting pertaining to that display.
While in the Navy, I was attached to a riverboat and coastal patrol unit.
After Vietnam, our unit was sent back to home base which is the Amphibious Base, Coronado Calif. This was in 1971. The Apollo program was still going on and our unit was assigned to work with NASA.
Our unit's job was to tow a mock Apollo capsule a few miles out to sea and provide duty as a safety boat for recovery divers. After we reached a certain point off the coast of San Diego, a helicopter (Boeing CH-47 "Chinook") would drop divers in the water. These divers were SEAL Team 1 and/or Under Water Demolition Team 12 members. Their job was to secure flotation collars around the capsule, and lifting hooks.
At the end of a day we would tow the capsule two hours back to our base and provide security for the capsule. This went on at least three times a week, all day long with different teams and for months on end. In bad weather, good weather, evenings, early mornings and at night.
Many have forgotten the Apollo program, which is a shame as it led to all the advancements and procedures used in the future space shuttle program.
A lot of the space program, as we know, happened here in Downey and in San Diego and off the coast of California.
In looking at that Apollo capsule at the museum, even after 40 years, all the long hours, the rescues, the training and all I saw at the time come rushing back to me.
Published: July 05, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 12