Gordon students meets with a true hero

SEATTLE — Heroes nowadays come in all shapes and sizes and for many different reasons.

But not many of them have set foot on our nearest extraterrestrial neighbor.

Former Kingston resident Richard Gordon is among those few and showed that even with his achievements, he’s still a down-to-earth guy as he met with a group of 30 local elementary students Nov. 19 at the Boeing Museum of Flight.

The students, who attend the school named after Gordon, watched as the North Kitsap High School graduate, University of Washington alumnus, former Navy Captain, former Apollo 11 and Gemini XI astronaut donated his piece of the moon to the BMF.

They also witnessed history in the making.

The Ambassadors of Exploration Award — a nickel-sized moon rock inside of a glass prism — was presented to Gordon 26 years to the day after he and his Apollo 12 crew landed on the moon’s Ocean of Storms. After each of the astronauts were presented with the awards, they donated them to the BMF for display.

For his moon rock presentation in Seattle, Gordon requested that the front rows of the theater be saved for the students of “his school,” Gordon Principal Claudia Peetz said. It was the first time any of the students had the opportunity to put a face with the name.

It was also the first time any of them had the opportunity to see a piece of the moon, and they were jubilant to say the least.

“Where they sat for the ceremony, the moon rock was right behind them,” Gordon teacher Mel Gallup said. “You could see them turning around to glance at it.”

He could also see that the students were drawn to Gordon.

“He was very educated; he had personality, a great sense of humor and he was very warm and sincere,” Gallup recalled. “He was truly their hero.”

A modern-day pioneer and moon explorer may seem to be out of this world, but Gordon was truly able to relate with the kids, Gallup said.

In front of a packed auditorium, Gordon finished his presentation and asked the proud students of Gordon Elementary to stand. Then he beckoned them up to the stage and they wrapped him in adoration.

The mass of students presented him with a ball cap, coffee cup and sweatshirt with the Gordon Elementary school emblem, and he offered his sincerity and respect in what was one of the biggest part of the day, Gallup said.

After visiting the various displays, some of the students were took the chance to ask Gordon if he’d every seen a star or “What does the sun look like in outer space?”

He kindly responded and even commented that some of the kids’ questions were better than some he’d had from adults. He also mentioned how he would like to return to Kingston to visit the school which bears his name.

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