Out of This World: Astronaut Legend Buzz Aldrin Saved by Scotia's 109th Airlift Wing
One of the first men to walk on the surface of the moon was medically evacuated from the South Pole and hospitalized Thursday -- some New York National Guard members aided in that effort.
The 109th Airlift Wing, based in Scotia, was charged with rescuing Buzz Aldrin because they are the only ones who can. Every year they head to Antarctica for the so-called Operation Deep Freeze to re-supply United States military bases and support scientific research.
But if there are emergencies, they are the ones asked to make the mission, since their aircrafts are the only ones in the world equipped with skis.
"We've made in essence a dangerous mission safe," said Lt. Col. David Panzera, of the 109th Airlift Wing.
He wasn't on this operation, but he can only imagine how exciting it must be for his fellow airmen to rescue a legend.
"Lets face it, that is the stunning and most amazing achievement of our nation in our history, in my opinion," said Panzera, talking about the Apollo 11 trip to the moon in 1969.
Aldrin became the second person to walk on the moon just 20 minutes after Neil Armstrong. He is now 86-years-old.
While on a vacation to the South Pole, Aldrin's medical condition began to deteriorate.
Crew members from the 109th flew him from the South Pole to McMurdo Station in Antarctica, where there are more resources. He was then flown to New Zealand, where he tweeted a picture of himself from the hospital saying he is "recovering well."
Panzera thinks Aldrin might be interested to know the people on his rescue mission will be reimbursed about the same amount as his $33.31 travel voucher from Houston to the moon.
"We make as much per-diem today down in McMurdo as he did back then for his trip to the moon, so it really is kind of funny and I think he would get a kick out of that," said Panzera.