Hornet Inspires Us to Endure

Courtesy Bob Fish The Hornet’s resident spaceman encourages visitors’ safety by reminding them to wear a mask.
Courtesy Bob Fish

Hornet Inspires Us to Endure

Juan Cobo

Part 2 of 3

As reported on in last week’s Sun, (“Hornet Practices Social Distancing with President”) USS Hornet chief historian Bob Fish, author of Hornet Plus Three, and filmmaker Todd Douglas Miller, director of “Apollo: Quarantine,” see significant similarities between NASA and the Navy’s joint 1969 endeavor aboard USS Hornet.

The Hornet’s mission was to quickly rescue and sequester the astronauts of Apollo 11 in anticipation of possible lunar contaminants, hypothetically dubbed “Moon Germs” and the modern effort to halt the current global pandemic.

“The Hornet helped lead the way for the Bay Area in masking up by making the connection between the most famous modern quarantine with the COVID lockdown quarantine,” said Fish.

Alamedans are lucky to visit the ship, according to director Miller, “Standing in the same place where the astronauts that took humanity’s first steps onto another world was an experience I will never forget.

“The USS Hornet Museum is a national treasure and I hope everyone gets a chance to see this incredible piece of living history.” Miller’s film is currently available on Amazon and other streaming services.

The Hornet’s permanent exhibit allows visitors to literally retrace the steps of the astronauts upon their return from space. From Miller’s perspective, “Apollo 11 is the single greatest achievement in human history. A vital part of the success of that mission is due to the efforts of USS Hornet.”

Although pioneers of quarantining aboard the Hornet, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Michael Collins and Neil Armstrong could not initially practice social distancing. They were strapped together side-by-side aboard the tiny landing splashdown capsule on their long, three day return to Earth, then sealed together in a custom-built Airstream mobile home onboard the Hornet for three weeks.

When no “Moon Germs” were detected after 21 days, the men were given a clean bill of health and released. Quarantine conditions were loosened slightly for the Apollo 12 retrieval.

As the Hornet welcomes back visitors, it’s easy to see parallels between the lunar missions and the social distancing and quarantining practices we see now.

“The quarantine had a purpose in preserving human health, but this too will end. Apollo 11 inspires Americans to see it through,” said Fish.

The USS Hornet Museum is now open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 707 West Hornet Ave. When visiting, tell Bill Griffith at the front desk to ask for Bob Fish.

Next week: In the conclusion to our three-part story, the Alameda Sun finally reveals the electrifying truth about Moon Germs.

Stay tuned.