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Astronauts Given Proud Aloha

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Every Sunday, “Back in the Day” looks at an article that ran on this date in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. The items are verbatim, so don’t blame us today for yesteryear’s bad grammar.

Hawaii proudly saluted the three Apollo 8 moonfliers yesterday as they set foot on land for the first time since they were launched on a half-million-mile voyage around the moon and back. More than 10,000 persons braved rain-threatening skies at Hickam Air Force Base to extend a warm aloha to them.

Col. Frank Borman, Capt. James A. Lovell and Lt. Col. William A. Anders spent less than 20 minutes in Hawaii, but they left an indelible impression of modesty that touched their fellow Americans. During the short stay they:

» Were welcomed by Hawaii’s top-ranking civilian and military officials.

» Received leis and kisses from greeters.

» Received aloha gifts of Hawaii flowers for their wives.

The ceremonies were brief — less than 10 minutes from start to finish.

Gov. John A. Burns, Mayor Neal S. Blaisdell and U.S. Sens. Hiram L. Fong and Daniel K. Inouye headed the welcoming committee, which included bright–eyed Keala O’Sullivan, Hawaii’s Olympic diving champ.

Spectators were strung out in a huge half-circle around the C141 Starlifter, the jet transport that later carried the astronauts from Hawaii to Houston.

At 2:20 p.m. a small twin-engine plane droned out of the overcast sky. … At a little after 2:30, the planed chugged its way up to the reception area. … Colonel Borman, Apollo 8’s command pilot, was first out of the plane. A cheer went up. The band played. Three hula girls and a local trio went into action. …

At 2:36, Donald K. "Deke" Slayton, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s director for flight crew operations and an ex-astronaut, stepped to the microphones and introduced Governor Burns.

"Each of us here today has a rare opportunity to share in what is certain to rank as one of the proudest moments in Hawaii’s history," Burns said.

"We are indeed honored and privileged to welcome and to extend our warmest aloha to our three pioneer astronauts as they stop on Hawaii soil in making their first contact with solid earth following their historic journey to the moon."


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