USS Hornet celebrates 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 moon landing

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The ship that recovered the Apollo 11 crew is permanently docked in Alameda, as a floating museum. While Apollo 11 landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, the crew splashed down off Samoa in the Pacific Ocean, 4-days later.

On Saturday, the USS Hornet celebrated the 50th anniversary of NASA's by bringing back some of the people who took part in the recovery effort. They included helicopter pilots, an underwater demolition team and a decontamination swimmer.

"They were a part of history - not just US history, world history," said USS Hornet Executive Director Mike McCarron,"It ranks up with Magellan and Columbus and Erik the Red. This was a seminal moment in world history."

Navy swimmer Clancy Hatleberg was the first to open the hatch and greet the astronauts. 

"I just had to literally step out into the water. Then I got into the up wing raft, got into my biological decontamination garment," Hatleberg said. "My swim recovery team ferried me on over, and we put the decontamination solars in place and then the rest is all detail."

Dr. Bill Carpentier, NASA flight surgeon, stayed with the astronauts in the mobile quarantine facility onboard the Hornet. 

"I had to get swab samples off their suits, everything had to be analyzed he said. 

Only 12 men have stepped foot on the moon and it took thousands of people to help with the mission.