(WFRV) — Fifty years ago, Apollo 11 launched into a new frontier, carrying the men who would become the first to walk on the moon.
For some, such as Michael Conroy, Executive Producer at Local 5, the day was more than just a pivotal moment in space history – it was a day that helped launch his career into motion.
“My father was a camera operator for a network affiliate and was assigned to focus on the rocket itself as it launched. He did this for several Apollo missions. For Apollo 11, he brought my mother and me with him. While he did his work, we watched from the viewing stand near the broadcast center,” Conroy says.
While many may remember watching the launch on television or hearing about it over the radio, Conroy saw the launch from start to finish.
“When the launch happened, we heard the countdown, the rocket lifted off and you could actually see the shock wave coming across a small pond between our location and the viewing area. My entire body shook, my mother and everyone else cheered. It was a long time ago, but I remember that moment clearly.”
Five decades later, younger generations have only archived footage to show the intensity of Apollo 11’s launch. And according to Conroy, watching his father’s footage is extra special for him.
“Seeing old archive video and film of that day, I have to admit, I look for my mom, for me, and my dad to see we’re in there. I will say, my father’s camera focused on the rocket as it launched is on YouTube. So it’s cool to be able to show my family what my father did and to say I was there to watch this historic mission begin… In a small way, my dad was part of history. My dad was part of one of the most monumentous things that ever happened to mankind. That’s kinda cool, I kinda like that. It makes me proud of him.”
Today, Conroy has not only archived footage, but numerous artifacts collected by his parents to remind him of the day.
“That’s kind of one of the reasons I’m in this business. I started at a very young age, my family brought me up in television and television news. Some of the things we do in this industry is we are the first markers of history. We’re the first ones to record history.”
CBS News will air an Apollo 11 special Thursday night at 9 p.m.