This is my third gala that I've helped out with, and it's a lot of fun. This year's theme was obviously - Apollo 11. About 50 of the mission control guys were there as well as a few astronauts.
Anyway, the following is an email I wrote to my mom describing the evening (I'm just too lazy two re-write it all here!)...
It was good fun!
I talked with a whole bunch of Apollo guys and they were all very excited to talk about what they did - and probably liked the fact that I also understood what they were talking about.
No photos since cameras were forbidden, but I know a few people did break the rules a little bit. There were a whole bunch of mission control guys there, Buzz, Bill Anders, Charlie Duke, Bonnie D., John Creighton (5 time shuttle commander), Richard Gordon, and some other astronauts. The guy that I was escorting worked on the flight control systems (basically everything) on the Lunar Module when they were landing. I hung out with him for about an hour and talked about stuff. They have one of the old control panels at the museum and I asked him if they powered that up, would he still be able to do what he did 40 years ago "Oh, no way! But I know that Neil would still be able to land on the moon if they gave him a chance!" was his response. He was a really neat guy, and we could have talked all night. His wife said that he never got tired of talking about it, and he said that despite the fact that they worked 24/7 in those days, he was always amazed that they paid him to do it since they had so much fun!
I also talked with the "father" of the Skylab space station - they were auctioning off a chunk of the old station (exact piece that I have at home) and I mentioned "I have one of those in my living room!" and then found out the guy behind me helped build it. Talked with him for about 5 minutes until someone had to drag him away.
I walked over to Paula who was talking to someone, (who I did recognize) and she introduced me to Dr. Chris Kraft (Uh...I DO know who he was!). Later we talked with him a little more when Maia was sitting near the bathroom - we found that was a good place for meeting other famous guys.
Also talked briefly to the guy that was the first to notice the warning that John Glenn's heat shield may have been deployed. Could have talked with him a lot longer, but I think his wife was ready to go.
Oh, Lisa and Charles Simonyi were there too, but I didn't see him. Maia talked with him and invited him to come to another meeting, he said he would like to and had a lot of fun that night. I wanted to see him and ask where he put my photo!
Anyway, good fun and the best place for Apollo geeks to be that night. :-)