Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin  

Montclair Lodge No. 144, New Jersey

Buzz Aldrin (born January 20, 1930 as Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Jr.) is an American aviator and astronaut, who was the Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 11, the first lunar landing. He was the second man to set foot on the Moon, after Mission Commander Neil Armstrong.

Aldrin was born to Marion and Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Sr., a military man in Montclair, New Jersey, where he became a Tenderfoot in the Boy Scouts of America. He attended Montclair High School in Montclair, New Jersey, and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The nickname "Buzz" originated in childhood: his sister mispronounced "brother" as "buzzer" as a toddler, and this was shortened to Buzz. He made it his legal first name in 1988.

Buzz Aldrin in dress uniformAldrin graduated third in his class in 1951 with a B.Sc. degree. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and served as a jet fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, where he flew 66 combat missions in F-86 Sabres and shot down two Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 aircraft.

After leaving Korea, Aldrin was an aerial gunnery instructor at Nellis Air Force Base in southern Nevada, and later an aide to the dean of faculty at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Following this assignment, Aldrin flew F-100 Super Sabres as a flight commander at Bitburg, Germany in the 22nd Fighter Squadron.

Aldrin earned his D.Sc. degree in Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His graduate thesis was Line-of-sight guidance techniques for manned orbital rendezvous. After leaving MIT, he returned to the Air Force and was assigned to the Gemini Target Office of the Air Force Space Systems Division in Los Angeles, and later to Edwards Air Force Base at the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School.

Aldrin walks on the surface of the Moon during Apollo 11.Aldrin was selected as part of the third group of NASA astronauts in October 1963. After the deaths of the original Gemini 9 prime crew, Elliott See and Charles Bassett, Aldrin was promoted to back-up crew for the mission. The main objective of the revised mission (Gemini 9A) was to rendezvous and dock with a target vehicle but when this failed Aldrin improvised an effective exercise for the craft to rendezvous with a co-ordinate in space. He was confirmed as pilot on Gemini 12, the last Gemini mission and the last chance to prove methods for EVA. He utilized revolutionary techniques during training for that mission, including neutrally-buoyant underwater training. Such techniques are still used today. Aldrin set a record for extra-vehicular activity and proved that astronauts could work outside the spacecraft.

Aldrin's lunar footprint in a photo taken by him, July 20, 1969.Much has been said about Aldrin's desire at the time to be the first astronaut to walk on the moon.[6] Differing NASA accounts have it that he had originally been proposed as the first, but the configuration of the lunar module was changed, or that protocol demanded that the commander (Armstrong) be the first. (In addition, in a March 1969 meeting between senior NASA personnel Deke Slayton, George Low, Bob Gilruth, and Chris Kraft, it was suggested that Armstrong be the first partly because Armstrong was seen as not having a large ego.) Nonetheless, Aldrin may have had an even more singular contribution. Armstrong's famous "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed," were the first words intentionally spoken to Mission Control and the world from the lunar surface. However, the actual first words ever spoken on the moon, at approximately 20:17:39 UTC on July 20, 1969, were very likely Aldrin's "Okay. Engine Stop" (although Armstrong leaves open whether he said "Shutdown" first.)

Aldrin is a Presbyterian, and is known for his statements about God. After landing on the moon, Aldrin radioed earth with these words: "I'd like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way." He received Communion on the surface of the moon, but kept his Communion a secret because of the lawsuit brought by Madalyn Murray O'Hair regarding the reading of Genesis on Apollo 8. Aldrin, a church elder, used a pastor's home Communion kit given to him by Dean Woodruff and recited words used by his pastor at Webster Presbyterian Church. He celebrated Communion alone, without his colleague Armstrong participating.

Aldrin took a Masonic flag to the moon in 1969.