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Synopsis

The splashdown and recovery of Apollo 11 on 24 July 1969 was a historic event, which fulfilled President John F. Kennedy s national goal of placing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth by the end of the 1960s. This book tells the dramatic story of the USS Hornet s recovery of the astronauts after the splashdown of their command module. This detailed account draws not only on historical records but also on the memories of eighty men who served aboard the Hornet and participated in the recovery operation, including Navy UDT frogman John M. Wolfram, who was the first to reach the Apollo II astronauts. Their inside account offers deck-level perspectives of events and includes details never before documented for the public. Their stories reveal that although the recovery operation looked easy and uneventful, there were many problems to overcome. For example, a machinist s mate had to repair a broken propeller shaft while the ship was underway so the Hornet could reach the point of splashdown on time; storms forced the ship to navigate by dead reckoning placing it miles away from its destination just minutes before Apollo came down; and a HS-4 helicopter narrowly avoided colliding with the command module due to heavy cloud cover. Yet, according to the author, the VIPs on the Hornet never suspected anything amiss. In addition to these behind-the-scenes stories, the book includes a never before published photograph of the Apollo 11 command module as it splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. Previously known only to those associated with the Navy SEAL who took the photo, the author established its authenticity through interviews with those on the helicopter and those who processed the photograph on the Hornet. Other photographs not previously released to the public, including surface-level photos taken by UDT swimmers during the recovery procedure are also among the illustrations displayed in the book.

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