By 2001, I had met 22 of the 24 men
that had flown to the Moon during Project Apollo. One of the 2
men missing from my set was Jack
Swigert. Swigert passed away in 1982, so
I never would be able to meet him. The
sole remaining person that I needed to meet was Apollo 13 Astronaut
I was thrilled when I learned that
Haise would speak at a benefit dinner in Dallas, Texas for the
YMCA. That dinner was scheduled for April 24th,
made the arrangements so that she and I
could attend the benefit.
We got to the banquet room of the
hotel and found that we would be sitting at a table only two tables
the head table. Fred Haise was seated at
the head table, so I considered our positioning very fortunate.
Haise started his presentation off
with a clip from the movie Apollo 13. After
the clip, he spoke about his thoughts on the
movie. From an artistic point of view he
movie was very well done. However, he
was disappointed in some of the artistic license that was taken.
Haise said that the language would
have been the one thing that he would have changed in the movie. Off color language was never used during the
mission. Haise had gone over all of the
space to ground transcripts and not one sear word was ever uttered. It was Haise’s opinion that you just cannot
sell movies in Hollywood anymore without a PG rating.
Another thing which Haise thought
was an inaccurate depiction was the party during the Apollo 11 mission. He said that there never were any NASA
celebrations during a mission until the crew was recovered safely. The Apollo 11 party did not happen.
The third thing that bothered Haise
was that Jack Swigert was portrayed inaccurately. Haise
asserted that Swigert was trained as
well as the primary crew. In fact he was
probably better because the backup crew usually got more time in the
simulators. The primary crew had more
their schedules with things such as press conferences.
Haise said that he was not involved
in the filming. He did, however, give actor Bill Paxton a tour of KSC. After the tour he and Paxton met back up with
Ron Howard and Tom Hanks. They had lunch
at the KSC cafeteria near by the Vehicle Assembly Building. After they finished eating, a few of the
workers trickled out
to get a few autographs. The only
autograph these people wanted was little Opie’s.
Haise then showed another film clip.
This time it was actual footage taken during
Apollo 13. He narrated the film and
spoke about activities during the mission.
After the dinner, Haise graciously
stayed to meet people and sign autographs. Mary
and I did very well with autographs. We
obtained some on books and other items. Two
of those autographs turned out exceptionally nice.
One was an Apollo 13 soundtrack CD and the
other was a photo of the damaged Service Module from Apollo 13. He signed both of them with a silver paint
There was a benefit auction at
this dinner. Mary and I placed bids on several items. None
of our bids were winners. After the dinner, Mary and I stopped at the
hotel bar and had a very nice glass of wine to celebrate our success at
meeting Apollo 13 Astronaut Fred Haise.