The nineteen men and women featured in When We Were Apollo represent a small but formidable fraction of the estimated 400,000-plus workforce who landed twelve astronauts on the moon and returned them safely to the earth. Our film is dedicated to their steadfast commitment—and with it—the conviction that we all have the ability to accomplish wonderful things when given the opportunity and the support to be successful.

al koller (abma / nasa)

“I was the youngest guy by far—seventeen years old—and I didn’t know A from Z. But they were willing to teach me. It was special. They cared about whether I was going to be successful or not.”


bob barnini (army corps of engineers)

“I went to work for the Army Corps of Engineers. It was either one of the generals or a colonel that came out and said: ‘JFK wants to put a man on the moon. They’re going to build a space center down in Florida. Any volunteers?’”


Brooks moore (abma / nasa)

“I was interviewed by one of the Germans, and I was impressed by him. I was not impressed with the facilities though; they were very austere. I deliberated over it and finally I decided: Well, I believe it’s worth a chance. And that’s about the best decision I ever made...”


“curly” chandler (ABMA / NAsa)

“I remember going home on weekends, talking to guys. They thought [the Redstone rocket] was sort of a Buck Rogers kind of thing. I convinced them it wasn’t Buck Rogers; we were going to do it.”


delano hyter (abma / nasa)

“In high school I had a teacher, and she would tell me: ‘You got a good head on your body for being a mathematician.’ And I guess that stuck. And that’s what I tried to do.”


heidi collier (us army)

“I was born in El Paso, Texas, while my parents were there under special orders of Congress: Operation Paperclip. About half of the [Wernher von Braun] team were taken by bus daily out to White Sands proving grounds, so they could share with captains of industry and professors, what is this unique thing—this rocket—that they built back in Germany during the war.”


hugh brown (itt)

“I was a part of the telemetrics department. And my department manager made it very clear; he said ‘I love excellence. I want people who are going to come in here, who are not only going to help us achieve our objective, but bring what wisdom they have to improve upon it.”’


james jennings (nasa)

“Apollo was done by people thirty and under primarily. So you had all of these folks that were willing to work twelve, eighteen hours a day to make this happen. And I just don’t see another project out there like that.”


jim stone (NORTH AMErican aviation)

“Mind-boggling! The first day when they drove me out to the Pad, and I looked down, and I looked up, I thought: You know, there ain’t no way in the world [the Saturn V rocket] is getting off the ground. Seven and a half million pounds! How could it ever get off the ground?”


joe cremin (NASA)

“It was such an incredibly exciting challenge. That the country was put on notice to [go to the moon], and to do it within a particular time. And to commit!”


john rankin (boeing)

“After the pad fire that killed the three astronauts, NASA said: If we have another disaster of like nature that kills the crew, Congress will cut off our funding, and that’ll be the end of the program. Everybody had that attitude. They knew it was that close to the end of the program.”


john tribe (north american aviation)

“[Apollo] demonstrated that with the will of the people and the backing of the politicians and the money, the nation can accomplish wonderful things. That’s the way most of us look back on it and say: Indeed, we made it happen. We were part of that. And we’re proud of it.”


kenny mitchell (nasa)

“I was sixteen. We were at a golf course. It was where all the high schoolers went to make out. My brother comes roaring in and just shouts: ‘We put up the first American satellite!’ You know, most of us don’t use the word ‘satellite’ back then.”


larry junker (nasa)

“Everybody knew what the final goal was. And nobody wanted to be the cause for having to move that goal.”


martha lemasters (ibm)

“You know, I wasn’t an integral part of [the Apollo program]. I had my job, which was to write about these brilliant people. I feel like I was the witness. I was the voice. I think it’s the greatest technological team that’s ever been formed.”


placide nicaise (chrysler / nasa)

“I’d always worked in the Huntsville Operations Support Center. I’d never seen a Saturn fly. So, I took annual leave, and I took my son to see the last shot to the moon. We didn’t know it was all over then. But, it was all over.”


shelby jacobs (north american aviation)

“[The Kennedy assassination] made me feel a degree of insignificance. If people who are in the limelight—who are doing great things—can be so easily disposed of, then who am I? It just kind of put that in perspective.”


wallace johnson (north american aviation)

“We need national goals, not unlike the Apollo Program. Apply it to health. Apply it to education. Bring everybody in on the act. They can have a sense of pride. A sense of belonging. A sense of ownership. And a sense of responsibility.”


wayne owens (nasa)

“People weren’t being forced to work these long hours. But, they did so by choice. And I think they were so engrossed with what they were doing, and the need to accomplish the work. When eight hours ended, they didn’t want to quit.”