Tri-Cities man played a vital role in Apollo 11 mission by mapping the lunar surface


CARTER COUNTY, Tenn (WJHL)- A local man played a vital role in the Apollo 11 mission by mapping out the lunar surface for the very first moon landing.

Saturday marks 50 years since man took his first steps on the moon.

On July 20, 1969 Niel Armstrong and Buzz Aldrid performed the first lunar landing mission.

Saturday all across the world people celebrated the historic day, including right here in the Tri-Cities.

Before those first steps on the moon could even be performed many people were behind the scenes trying to make that historic day happen, including a local man who helped map the landing site.

Lynn Hardin was born and raised in Tennessee, graduating from Hampton High School in 1962.

After school, Hardin was looking for work and ended up with a job in Ohio before getting a call from the Army Map Service.

“I grew up right out here in Siam. I went to Siam Elementary School up on the hill and I went to Hampton high school. I took a test for the Army Map Service and they called me,” said Hardin.

At the time the Army Map Service called, Hardin already had a job and told them he didn’t need the work. However, after rethinking his options Hardin said, “I called back and told them I reconsidered. When I was first hired in there I didn’t know anything about mapping.”

Hardin was hired to go into top-secret work, starting from the bottom and working his way up.

“When I started working there, which was in July. [my] first day I think was the 29th day of July 1963. My annual salary was 3,280 dollars a year, which isn’t very much now,” said Hardin with a laugh.

Hardin trained for nine months before being put on the lunar moon project.

“We mapped the lunar moon surface and mapped the lunar landing site where Apollo 11 sat down on. At that time I didn’t really think much of it you know, it was just a job. We used satellite photography and we mapped that surface down to the area where they actually sat down Apollo 11. I seen it on television and at that time I didn’t realize what a big thing that was, but now I can look back and see that that was the first time man ever stepped on the moon. I look back and think well I was a part of history,” explained Hardin.

Hardin’s friend from Virginia, Harold Taylor, also worked on those maps for the moon landing. Taylor, however, passed away in 2017.

Hardin was 19 years old when he started working for the Army Map Service.

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