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Air Force veteran dreams of securing lunar astronaut’s autograph

The Apollo 11 lunar landing mission crew, pictured from left to right, Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot. (NASA/Released)

When 15-year-old Stanley Borucki Jr. read the bold, blue newspaper headline announcing American astronauts had landed on the moon, he realized that edition of the Buffalo Evening News would be a keepsake.

Customers on his Cheektowaga paper route were asking him for extra copies of the July 21, 1969, newspaper. Faithful paperboy that he was, Borucki bought 10 copies and kept five for himself.

Skip ahead to 1972, the last time America sent astronauts to the moon, and the year Borucki joined the Air Force after graduating from Cheektowaga Central High School. The 18-year-old, if called upon, was willing to travel to the other side of the world and serve in the Vietnam War.

“They instead sent me to serve in a detachment at a Canadian air force base,” Borucki said with a chuckle, since Canada was the preferred destination for draft dodgers seeking refuge. “I got sent there and was paid.”

Then through an unpredictable turn of events, the history-keen Borucki did play a support role when lunar astronauts in 1978 were honored by President Jimmy Carter.

After he returned from Canada, Borucki had been given a security assignment at Andrews Air Force Base. His work included guarding Air Force One and other aircraft that transported the nation’s highest-ranking officials.

At times, he traveled with Vice President Walter Mondale, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and first lady Rosalynn Carter.

When President Carter was preparing for a trip to Vienna to sign an arms treaty with the Soviet Union, Borucki flew ahead of time to Austria with an advance team that worked out final details for the SALT II agreement signing.

The work provided Borucki with a ticket to different locations around the globe.

But what excited him the most happened in the United States when he and other security personnel were assigned to a mission in Florida. Carter was going there to award the Congressional Space Medal of Honor to six astronauts, including Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.

Before taking off for the Kennedy Space Center, Borucki dug up his five keepsake copies of the Buffalo Evening News. He hoped he could get Armstrong or one of the other astronauts to autograph the front pages.

“I had flown in a second jet that was filled with officials,” Borucki said. “I was there in a military capacity. I just couldn’t run up to the astronauts, but at times we were allowed to mingle, and if the chance presented itself, I was going to ask for the autographs.”

Unfortunately, Borucki never even got close. He and others were ordered to stay close to the aircraft and protect it.

However, Borucki’s military service provided other chances for memorabilia from those in power.

There is a photograph autographed by Carter showing perhaps his greatest triumph in shuttle diplomacy. Carter, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin are shown celebrating the signing of the Camp David Accords, which brought peace to the two Middle East countries.

And there are other photographs. One shows Borucki standing beside Rosalynn Carter, who autographed the snapshot. Another photo is of her and the president, and both have autographed it.

But the former newspaper delivery boy, all these years later, is still reaching for the stars. His dream, he says, is to have an astronaut autograph the front pages of his keepsake newspapers whose headlines proclaim: “We Walk On Moon: ‘A Leap For Mankind.’ ”

Retired from the military in 1997 after 25 years, the former master sergeant is making a public appeal in this story for astronaut Buzz Aldrin to consider autographing the newspapers.

Aldrin was the second man to walk on the moon right after Armstrong, who died in 2012.

“People say be patient. Well the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 flight to the moon is coming this summer and I’m hoping that I can acquire Buzz Aldrin’s signature on the newspapers,” Borucki said.

So Mr. Aldrin, if by some chance you happen to read this and the spirit moves you, let us know and we’ll get word to this persistent and patient Air Force veteran who holds you and other lunar astronauts in the highest esteem.


Stanley Borucki Jr., 64

Hometown: Cheektowaga

Residence: Edgewater, Fla.

Branch: Air Force

Rank: Master sergeant

War Zone: Vietnam War era veteran

Years of service: 1972 – 1997

Most prominent honors: 1974 Air Force Security Policeman of the Year, Griffiss Air Force Base; Presidential Certificate of Appreciation, Andrews Air Force Base

Specialty: Security


© 2019 The Buffalo News (Buffalo, N.Y.)

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