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Chris Malone (center) with astronauts James Lovell (left Apollo 13) and Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon (Apollo 17).

In 1969 I was 12 years-old, growing up in Louisville, Ky., and, like a lot of young kids, was fascinated with anything space related.

I read everything I could find about the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. I even sent a letter to NASA asking them to send me anything they could about the rockets. A few friends and I built model rockets and started our own little space club, Operation Outer Space.

I was glued to our color TV at home and a little disappointed that the moon landing feed was in black and white. Regardless, I sat there in wonder and awe watching those grainy shots of the first steps on the moon. It was an exciting and proud time to be an American!

I credit those early space pioneers with instilling in me a passion for science and engineering that led to a career in computer and network administration. In 2011, I was fortunate enough to meet a couple of those famous astronauts who were some of my early heroes, James Lovell (Apollo 13) and Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon (Apollo 17).

— Chris Malone, Jamestown

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