“I used to work with the White House’s top-secret communications team during the Johnson and Nixon Administrations,” Joyce says. “I was an Army sergeant. We traveled on Air Force One. All kinds of perks. We always went first-class.”
So…you met the presidents?
“Oh, yes. We were their secure line. I was in the right place at the right time when I personally got to patch President Nixon to the Apollo 11 astronauts, the first men on the Moon. I did live radio checks through Chris Kraft, the first flight director at NASA Mission Control, across the whole mission. Imagine how fun it was to say, when President Nixon was ready, ‘I have the Moon on the line. Go ahead, sir.’ I remember thinking, boy, I hope this works.”
11:49 p.m., July 20, 1969
Hello Neil and Buzz, I am talking to you by telephone from the Oval Room at the White House, and this certainly has to be the most historic telephone call ever made from the White House.
I just can’t tell you how proud we all are of what you have done. For every American this has to be the proudest day of our lives, and for people all over the world I am sure that they, too, join with Americans in recognizing what an immense feat this is.
Because of what you have done the heavens have become a part of man’s world, and as you talk to us from the Sea of Tranquility, it inspires us to redouble our efforts to bring peace and tranquility to earth.
For one priceless moment in the whole history of man all the people on this earth are truly one–one in their pride in what you have done and one in our prayers that you will return safely to earth.
ASTRONAUT ARMSTRONG. Thank you, Mr. President. It is a great honor and privilege for us to be here representing not only the United States, but men of peaceable nations, men with an interest and a curiosity, and men with a vision for the future. It is an honor for us to be able to participate here today.
THE PRESIDENT. Thank you very much, and I look forward, all of us look forward, to seeing you on the Hornet on Thursday.
Actually, NASA Flight Director Kraft’s full name is Dr. Christopher Columbus Kraft, Jr., 90. Born in Phoebus, Virginia, the former head of Johnson Space Center lives in Houston with his wife, Elizabeth Anne Kraft. Dr. Kraft consults on aerospace with IBM and Rockwell International.
“They asked me to talk to the president because they wanted to make sure he knew what the possibilities or limitations were,” Kraft says when we reach him by telephone. “There could have been interruptions in both directions. That as long as they recognized what the limitations were, they could easily patch the White House to the Moon. So we did it. We gave him a time when it would be most appropriate to speak in the timeline of the astronauts’ activities. I suspect, but don’t remember specifically, that we told him not to speak too long.”
Don’t you hate it when a president ties up the Moon?