We just learned that Jack King passed away.
Mr. King was not a rocker or a sports announcer, nor did he make TV or radio commercials.
He was the voice we used to hear in school when nice teachers would let us watch the astronauts flying into space.
A Boston native, King arrived at Cape Canaveral as an Associated Press reporter in 1958 and two years later became NASA's public information chief here during the Mercury program, as the space race and what would become Kennedy Space Center were just ramping up.Back then, the space program was a big deal. We would anticipate the launch and then follow the spaceships landing in the ocean. We grew accustomed to Mr. King's voice, even if most of us had no idea of who he was. He was the man who did the "play-by-play of the spaceships," as a school buddy used to tell me.
He called launch of the Gemini 4 mission 50 years ago, and many that followed, but is best known for the Apollo 11 launch in 1969, which NASA estimates has been heard by more than a billion people.
In a steady voice broadcast by TV and radio networks on July 16, 1969, King reported that the astronauts felt good as the final seconds ticked away, and that the Saturn V rocket's engines had ignited shortly after 9:30 that morning.
"Liftoff, we have a liftoff," he said. "Thirty-two minutes past the hour, liftoff on Apollo 11. Tower cleared."
We often think of a song, such as Beatles tune, or a sports moment, such as the last out of a World Series, that defines our youth.
RIP, Mr. King. Thanks for all of those launch calls, specially that emotional Apollo 11 that I heard in a little transistor radio walking home from summer school:I have my favorite songs and sports moments, too.
I also have Mr King's voice and the joy and excitement that it brought me, watching a launch in a classroom.
"Twelve, 11, 10, 9, ignition sequence start. Six, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, zero, all engine running. Liftoff! We have a liftoff, 32 minutes past the hour. Liftoff on Apollo 11."
P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.
Friday June 12: Reagan Berlin Wall 1987 & a look at my American Thinkers posts this week... http://t.co/RjRlnTR9lz— Silvio Canto, Jr. (@SCantojr) June 12, 2015
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