The upcoming 50thanniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing brings back memories for many League City residents who witnessed or had a connection with the historic event.
For Kelly Williamson, public information officer for the League City Police Department, the anniversary is especially significant because it brings memories of his late father, who was a former photographer for NASA.
After retiring from the Marine Corps, Dick “Gunny” Williamson began working for NASA’s photographic division and was responsible for filming recoveries as astronauts returned from space. He filmed and photographed memorable achievements during the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. One of his most important roles was photographing the recovery operation during the Apollo 11 mission.
“My dad has so many pictures and a lot of them aren’t even available for the public,” said Williamson while skimming through a box of photographs and mementos.
Williamson proudly remembers stories told by his dad about the people he worked with, including astronauts like Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong. In fact, his father named Williamson’s younger brother “Alan” after Astronaut Alan Shepherd.
“I was always fascinated with space and I was lucky that dad was able to work for NASA.”
Out of the boxes of original photographs, patches, and knick-knacks, Williamson’s favorite keepsake is a piece of foil recovered from lunar excursion module from the Apollo 11 moon landing, gifted to him by his father.
Another one of his fondest memories is holding moon dust that Gunny collected from space cannisters on the inside of a spacecraft.
“He picked it up with tape and put it on some envelopes, so I got to hold moon dust on my hand. It was later turned in to NASA, but it was very cool.”
Williamson continues to remember his father dearlyand hopes to keep his legacy alive by sharing his stories with his family and friends.
“I’m beyond proud to have had a father like him in my life.”
For another inspiring story about the Apollo 11 anniversary, click here.