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Two East Texans reflect on role in Apollo 11 mission

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LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) -

They have lived in the same complex for more than a year, but today, they found out they have a lot more in common than their address. Robert Embrey and Pat Dugan both worked on Apollo 11. This Saturday is the 44th anniversary of that landing and today marks the day the spacecraft blasted off.

The words, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” spoken by Neil Armstrong, are etched into American history forever. But the memory is even closer for Pat Dugan and Robert Embrey.      

The two worked on parts that assembled Apollo 11. At the time, each was in a different area of the country.

“There were hundreds of people involved in this endeavor to go to the moon,” Robert Embrey said.

But these two, ended up at a retirement home in Longview together, years later. They live just two doors down from each other and had spoken casually a few times. It wasn’t until a staff member heard both of their stories separately that this meeting was planned to talk about their experience together.

“We were watching it on monitors,” Dugan said.

“Well, I watched it on TV,” Embrey said.

As did most other Americans in 1969 and Dugan said, “some of them didn’t believe it. They thought it was a Hollywood production. But of course, it wasn’t, it was for real.”

Dugan spent seven years working on the module that landed on the moon, while Embrey’s company configured parts like one he kept.

“It’s very memorable, when you’re working on something that big,” Embrey said.

Even, today, the excitement of that moment is as vibrant as ever as the two sit recalling the historic event.

“It was wonderful to see it materialize. Here’s the unit! You worked on! And look at it, it’s sitting on the moon,” Dugan laughs.   

They remember every little piece that went into building Apollo 11 and say they are grateful to have been a piece of history.

“Both of us have lived through, and my wife, have lived through a very interesting part of our national history,” Embrey said.

This year, July 20 is not only an anniversary, but also a reunion.

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