John E. McLeaish

John McLeaish was born in Houston and reared in Weslaco, Texas. He was working at Houston's Ellington Air Force Base when NASA recruited him in 1962.

 

He served as Chief of the Public Information Office for 16 years, directing news operations for 29 manned space flights. He also served as the media liaison locked in quarantine with the Apollo 11 crew after the first moon landing. During that time, he quite possibley became the first person to consume moon dust. "I might as well taste it and go out first class, if that’s what’s going to happen," he said. He called it “kind of tasteless.”

 

He performed mission commentary for Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Shuttle flights. He was on duty during the Apollo 13 accident, and for the successful recovery a few days later.  McLeaish was awarded the NASA Exceptional Service medal for Skylab news operations. He retired from the space agency in 1984.

 

John McLeaish died in San Antonio in December 2006 at the age of 77 after a long battle with lung cancer.

 

(sources: Robert Pearlman, collectSPACE.com obituary, Associated Press, JSC Oral History)

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