Honoring Astronaut C.C. Williams

Painting Completed September 2013
17 1/2 x 13 1/2 inches, Textured Acrylic with Moondust an Aircraft Plywood

As astronauts, we knew the dedication it would take to find a way to the Moon and back. We knew that it would take sacrifice, too. In our military flying careers we had seen fellow aviators die preparing to defend our country. As test pilots, we had friends perish trying to move technology forward to keep our country strong.

We knew achieving an impossible dream would not be easy. We were honored to have been chosen to help find a way, but we knew not all of us that began the quest would make it to the end.

One that made the ultimate sacrifice along the way was a gifted and skilled Marine test pilot named Clifton Curtis "CC" Williams. CC and I were selected in the third group of astronauts and came to know each other pretty well during our first year of training. We became even closer when we were assigned as the backup crew for the Gemini 10 mission. One thing I remember about CC was that no matter the long hours we trained, or the frustrating intermittent failures of those early simulators, CC never said a discouraging word. I might have been complaining, but CC never lost his cool.

After Gemini, CC joined an Apollo crew with Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon; and I was assigned to the Skylab program. Several months later, in October of 1967, CC was returning to Houston from training at Cape Kennedy when a serious mechanical failure of his T-38 aircraft caused it to crash and CC was killed. Pete Conrad went to our boss, Deke Slayton, and requested that I be assigned to his crew. We never forgot CC's sacrifice.

When we designed our Apollo 12 mission patch, we put four stars in the sky above Yankee Clipper. About a month before our Apollo 12 mission was scheduled to launch, we contacted CC's widow, Beth, and asked if she would let us take CC's Marine Corps aviators wings to the moon with us and leave them on the Ocean of Storms? She said it seemed the right thing to do.

It is now at the end of our second moonwalk and all of our official duties are complete. I have placed CC's wings and one of our Apollo 12 crew patches near the edge of Surveyor Crater. Pete is rendering his best military salute. I will join him in a salute in a moment. Scientists tell us CC's wings will remain there, relatively unchanged, for millions of years.

I know that selfless dedication is not limited to astronauts. We see it every day in humans in every walk of life. In the soldiers that defend our country, in the courage of police and firefighters, and in the doctors and nurses that give all of their efforts to save a life or bring a new life into this world.