Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ve Vonder Vere +Guenther Wendt....

American space pioneer Guenther Wendt, the legendary "Pad Fuehrer" who prepared almost all the astronauts involved in the early launches through the end of the Apollo program, passed away Monday at the age of 86.

He is seen in my favorite movie, Apollo XIII--the man who shakes Jim Lovell's hand before the hatch was sealed at launch--and is also greeted by Lovell with "I vonder vere Gunther vent?", a joke that Mr. Wendt no doubt learned to hate.

He was involved in almost every flight from Mercury to the Apollo-Soyuz mission with the significant exception of the Apollo 1 tragedy, where contracting difficulties kept him uninvolved. The astronauts insisted on his return thereafter, and return he did.

His strictness in running the preflight checks was legendary, but it no doubt resulted in the return of every American astronaut ever launched under his authority. He was the last man the astronauts saw before leaving Earth--and could have been the last man any of them actually did see.

He is a minor American legend and deserves to be remembered for all he did to put us on the moon.

He leaves behind three daughters, five grandchildren, a great-grandson and a great-great-grandson.

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Keep it clean for gene.