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On Lunch Break at Ft. Devens

It was January 28, 1986. I was attending an add-on school for Analysts in the Army at Ft. Devens and I was freezing my rear end off on the daily marches up and down the hill from Student Company (StuCo as we called it) to the school house that was built on top of the old German POW camp.

We had an hour break for lunch and I had just stuck my head in the dayroom to catch the Shuttle Challenger lifting off before heading to the cafeteria. I watched the countdown and saw Challenger pulling away from the Earth on that huge fireball. Being a child of the sixties, I was enamored with the space program. I'd seen them put a man in space, a man on the moon and I knew the shuttle was going to help us build a space station that we could use to visit the rest of the solar system eventually.

I left and was going down the hall when all of a sudden I heard screams come from the dayroom. I ran back down there, thinking maybe someone had gotten hurt. When I asked what was wrong, someone said, "The Shuttle just blew up."

I said, "Don't be ridiculous. Shuttles don't just blow up."

All the person could do was point at the screen. I sat and watched the replay after replay of the incident with my mouth hanging open and my eyes wide. This couldn't be happening. Sure, there'd been an accident with Apollo 1, but that was a test module on the ground. We hadn't lost a single ship once they had been launched. Period. NASA didn't do that.

I remember going to class that afternoon and our instructor walked in, sat down and canceled class for the rest of the day. He was in no shape to try and make us learn stuff and we weren't in a receiving mode anyway.

I'm still a space geek and I still believe we have a future in space.

Never forget those who paved the way.


( 1 howl — Howl with the Pack )
Jan. 29th, 2010 09:18 am (UTC)
Yes, I was on high school revision leave and a friend phoned: "Turn on the television..." This is the geek version of the JFK assassination.
( 1 howl — Howl with the Pack )

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