| On July 8th, 1990
moonwalkers Charlie Duke and
Jim Irwin offered their testimony at a Baptist church in Houston,
I attended this event along with my girlfriend's 8
year old son Toby and
my friend Mark Shelton.
First of all let me state that I am not a Baptist. I am a life long Catholic. In 1990, I really
didn't know much about Baptists. Mary my
girlfriend did have a Baptist upbringing and she warned me how grueling
service was going to be. Mark informed
me that at the service if they tell people to come up to the front, I
go. Okay, so this would be an alien
experience for me. It seemed worth it
for an opportunity to meet Duke and Irwin.
We left early in the morning at around 4:00 AM.
That would put us at the church by 8:00 AM for
the start of the proceedings. I drove
and the vehicle that we took was my red Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z.
We found the church without any difficulty.
We parked and went inside. We
were invited to have breakfast. They said
what they were serving was kolaches. I got
really excited. I have a warm spot in my
heart for kolaches
due to my Czech ancestry.
When I saw what they were calling kolaches I was sorely
disappointed. These were not the Czech
pastries like my mother baked. These
were “pigs in a blanket”. Little
sausages wrapped in dough. That bordered
on sacrilege for me.
Irwin spoke in a small room. I
was thrilled to be able to have an opportunity to
listen to him. He talked some about his
experience on Apollo
15. He also talked about his search for
Noah's Ark on Mount Ararat inTurkey. All of this was fascinating to me.
His talk about the search for Noah's ark was particularly
riveting. He told the story about how he
there. A rock hand come rolling down
from above and hit Irwin in the head. He
was knocked out and lost a lot of blood. Fortunately
he was rescued and lived to tell the
At the conclusion of his talk, Irwin said that he was going
on another trip to Turkey to
for the Ark. He was going that summer in fact.
He extended an offer for anyone to join him
who was interested. Wow, that was
interesting to me.
After his testimony, Irwin sat at a table in the foyer of
the church so that people could meet him. I
was pleased with that opportunity. He was
only the third man who had walked on the Moon
that I had met. Toby and I introduced
ourselves and got a
couple of autographs. My autograph was
in a book called “Home Planet”.
As I milled about the foyer, I noticed that there was an
unexpected moonwalker in attendance. Alan
Bean from Apollo 12 had showed up just to tell
Irwin hello. That was a most
unexpected bonus. I felt like I had just
one the lottery. I introduced
myself to Bean and talked to
him a little bit about his art. I told
him that his painting titled “Helping Hands” was my favorite of the
he had done. He reached into his pocket
and gave me his business card. On the
card was a small image of “Helping Hands”. Bean
said that he still had the original in his
studio and often looked
at it while he painted. Bean autographed
my copy of “Home Planet”.
We were also able to meet Charlie Duke, Apollo 16
moonwalker. He was friendly and
graciously autographed my “Home Planet” as well.
Mark, Toby, and I went into the main sanctuary of the
church. This place was huge.
I had never seen such a place. It
seemed more like a basketball arena than
it did a church. The theater seating did
however afford a good view of the focal point of the church.
I prepared myself for that grueling service that Mary had
warned me about. Everything was so
different here; I thought I could suck it up and make it through. The service started and I was shocked. I was shocked because it was anything but a
boring, grueling service. This was quite
the multimedia extravaganza. It was like
a Broadway musical.
On the stage, fog started pouring forth.
A person came out bearing an American
flag. How was that person dressed? The person was adorned in a space suit. With great symbolism the astronaut planted the
flag on the stage. This was
grueling? I would have to keep my eyes
out for when the torture started.
After the astronaut, young woman appeared on the stage. What were they doing? Could
that be construed as dancing? Surely my
eyes were deceiving me. Mary had assured
me that Baptists don't
dance. It was quite an opening for a
After a number of speakers, Astronaut Duke got up to give
his testimony. He was really
passionate. He spoke with great
sincerity and humbleness for a man who had walked on the Moon.
At the end of the service the call was made for people to
come to the front of the church to dedicate their lives to Christ. I smiled at Mark to acknowledge his
instructions that I should remain seated.
The service was over and it was time to head back home. What a great day this had been!
We met not only two moon walkers but
three. That was one fourth of all the
men who had walked on the moon. It was
We got back on the freeway, and promptly ran into road
construction. The signs with the
construction were very confusing. Somehow
we vectored off in the wrong direction. We
wound up out in the middle of
nowhere. There was no map in the car and
we were lost. We were someplace near
Tomball, but had no idea how to get back home.
We noticed a Vietnamese man on the side of the road selling
shrimp. This was in the middle of
boonies. He was the only man that we had
seen for miles. We stopped to ask
directions. He had a very thick accent,
but understood what we were asking.
The man was most animated in giving us directions. He was so animated that as he spoke saliva
came spraying out his mouth, dotting the outside of the car and the car
window. We thanked him for the
directions. He started up again repeating
the directions, just to make sure that we understood them.
This was beginning to get entertaining.
Finally we were able to break away and head
About half way home we pulled off the freeway and into a gas
station. The car was running low on
fuel. I was also very tired and needed a
break. I opened the driver's side door
and it clanged into a cement post that protected the gas pumps. The doors on Camaros are pretty long and hit
had a good deal of momentum when it hit. The
post put a substantial ding in my car door.
It wouldn't do any good to get mad about the ding. Instead, I noted in my mind that every time I
saw that ding it would remind me of the day that I met one fourth of
The story doesn't quite end here. Remember
how Jim Irwin invited people to go
with him to search for Noah's Ark? Well I wrote Colonel Irwin a letter. I told him about meeting him at the church
and how interesting his talk was. I told
him that I thought searching for the Ark
was really interesting and asked if he could send me any more
A few days later at about 8 O'clock in the morning, my
telephone rang. The person on the phone
identified themselves as Jim Irwin's assistant. I
was surprised. I had
written my phone number in the letter to Irwin. They
had found my number through information.
Irwin’s assistant told me that the trip was leaving the week
after next. It would cost $3000 and they
wanted to know if I would like to come along. My
jaw dropped. I would
have an experience of searching for Noah’s Ark
with a man who walked on the Moon. Two
weeks though, just was not enough time for me to get prepared.
I told Irwin’s assistant that while I appreciated the offer,
I just could not accept it on such short notice. I
asked her that if there ever was another
trip by Irwin to search again, that I would like to be included. The assistant assured me that they would keep
my contact information.
My brain was numb. I
had an opportunity to take a trip with Jim Irwin and I passed it up. I thought I would need to take some rock
climbing classes so that I would have better skills on the mountain.
The day after Irwin’s trip to Turkey
began, on August 2, 1990, Iraq
invaded Kuwait. I breathed a sigh of relief.
I didn’t know what the situation in Turkey
was, but it was better not to have to fear for my safety.
borders with Iraq
so that would have made me nervous. I
was disappointed that I was not on the trip but I knew this worked out
best for my mother. It would have put an
enormous amount of stress on her to know that her son was that close to
My hope to go on another adventure with Jim Irwin never
materialized. One year later on August,
8th, 1991 Jim Irwin passed away due to a heart attack.