As the nation celebrates the anniversary of mankind’s first lunar landing with Apollo 11, visitors to the historic Atwood House in Chatham, Massachusetts were treated today to the recollections of Commander Don “Blades” Broderick, USN Retired, who participated in the Apollo 7 recovery mission in October 1968.
The year 1968 was a lousy one for the United States Navy. Vietnam had proven that no service branch was immune to casualties. USS Pueblo (AGER-2) and its crew were captured by the North Koreans. USS Seawolf (SSN-575) ran aground in Georges Basin off the coast of Maine. Lieutenant Junior-Grade Joseph Dunn was presume lost after his AH-1 Skyraider was shot down by a Chinese MiG near Hainan Island. Most tragic of all, the attack submarine USS Scorpion (SSN-589) was lost with all hands in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Navy needed a break. It happened to be a major participant in Apollo recovery operations, something that had to be done the right way every time. Good helicopter pilots were needed to reach a space capsule after splashdown, recover the astronauts, and get everyone back. Don Broderick was one of those pilots.
I was pleased to introduce Don today at the Charlestown Historical Society, where he delivered a wonderful presentation about the Apollo 7 recover mission. You can read a little about that historic mission on my veterans site, Veterans Remember.