Commentary: An out-of-this-world breakfast

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Kevin Wallace
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Am I on the moon?

Right now, I feel like I'm lost in space and am unable to get back to earth.

After covering the "Legends of Aerospace: The Impossible Is Possible" tour at RAF Mildenhall's Galaxy Club last night, and getting the surreal experience of getting to personally meet and interview Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell, Gene Cernan, Bob Gilliland, Steve Ritchie and David Hartman, I thought "It doesn't get much better than this."

At about 10 p.m. last night I scurried back to my little corner of the 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs office and plugged away at my keyboard, posting a news story about the event by midnight and sending out a worldwide press release shortly thereafter.

As I drove home slightly after 1 a.m. this morning, I was still mesmerized by the experience.

This morning I woke up bright and early as I had to cover a breakfast held in honor of the aerospace icons. What happened at breakfast forever changed my life.

I arrived to the breakfast thinking since I already got exclusive interviews with the "Christopher Columbus of space flight," I'd end up being a fly on the wall and just taking photos at the breakfast.

Houston, we've had a problem - these heroes are signaling that they'd like me to sit at their table for breakfast.

Pulling myself together, my coworker (Staff Sgt. Austin May) and I pulled up chairs and sat down at the big boys' table. I was sitting right next to Neil Armstrong. Next to him were Gene Cernan and David Hartman.

I had some printed copies of my news story on me, and they wanted to see them. I nervously handed each a copy.

I sat there bewildered as all of them very carefully reviewed my story - and provided comments. Holy cow! Mr. Armstrong, Cernan and Hartman just critiqued a story I wrote, and said they loved it!

A few more sips of coffee helped me keep my composure.

During breakfast we talked about space flight, ranches in California, and a whole array of other subjects - we just chatted for nearly an hour.

At one point, Mr. Armstrong enlightened us on the first air-to-air refueling he knew of. Knowing he was at an air refueling wing, he said he thought we'd particularly enjoy the trivia.

He went on to describe how two bi-planes were flying side by side back in the 1920s when one pilot walked out on the wing of his plane with a 5-gallon bucket of petrol and poured it into the other craft's gas tank.

After the breakfast, I accompanied some of them on a detour to the Base Exchange. Then we headed to their billeting rooms as they had to get packed up, loaded on a bus, and head down to London within the hour.

I'm 12 years into my Air Force career, and have done and seen many things in the sands of Afghanistan, beaches of Okinawa and even back home in the good old U.S.A. Still, nothing amounts to what it means to be in the presence and converse with arguably some of the greatest icons of the 20th Century.

Reflecting on what all six of those men did for their nation, there's nothing like it on God's green earth. Though we all try to do our part and contribute positively to our unit's missions, it's icons like Neil Armstrong who provide the motivation to be great.

I'm no Neil Armstrong - but I am sure proud to have gotten the opportunity to have an out-of-this-world breakfast with him.