Retired Navy Frogman shares story of Apollo 11 recovery

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Eau Claire (WQOW) — Many of us know the story of the Apollo 10 and 11 missions, the moon landing, and all the history that surrounds it, but how many know the Wisconsin man who helped those astronauts back to safety?

John Wolfram was a Navy Frogman when the astronauts from the Apollo 11 mission splashed into the Pacific Ocean.

“I had no idea in high school that I’d be involved in something like that,” said Wolfram. “When I’m standing in that door, the first one to greet the astronauts, knowing that the world is watching, that’s a big moment in anybody’s life.”

Wolfram was first to welcome Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins back to Earth.

“We look in the hatch window to see if the astronauts are okay, they give me a thumbs up,” Wolfram recalled.

The now-retired Frogman from Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin is sharing is experience of victory, of tragedy, and of recovery with the Chippewa Valley.

“It was the 1960s, and it was kind of a really rough time for people, that didn’t have their head on straight so to speak,” Wolfram told News 18. “There was a lot of drug movement back then, just like there is today, and unfortunately I got caught up in that and went back to Vietnam, where I lost eight close friends. That led me to my conversions, so when I go to churches, I share a little of the Apollo, but I also go back and talk about how God rescued me.”

Wolfram will be at the Pentecostal Assembly Church on Sunday, June 23 (at 10 a.m.). The event is free and open to anyone who would like to meet Wolfram and hear his message.

“When I jumped out of that helicopter, I didn’t want to let the astronauts down, I did not want to let America down, I didn’t want to let my mother down,” said Wolfram. “I wanted to make sure I did the job that the Navy called on me to do, and that was to get the astronauts into that raft, up in the helicopter, aboard the USS Hornet safely.”

You can find more information about Wolfram’s involvement with the Apollo 11 mission here.

Samantha Wensel

Samantha Wensel

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