Incredible collection of military records belonging to Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, dating from his first year in the United States Air Force (USAF) in 1951 until his retirement from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1971. The archive consists of Officer Effectiveness Reports, Training Reports, supplementary endorsements, and facsimiles of citations and letters, all of which are housed in Aldrin’s original “United States Air Force, Officer Command Selection Record Group” folder, with tab labeled “Aldrin, Edwin E. Jr.,” signed on the front cover in black felt tip, “My Official Military Records and Evaluations during the time I was assigned to NASA Duties thru June 1971, Buzz Aldrin.”
The collection includes 13 of Aldrin’s Officer Effectiveness Reports (OER), dating between April 15, 1953, and February 11, 1971, each issued for “Aldrin, Edwin, E. Jr.” The reports follow Aldrin’s meteoric rise through the military, and accordingly list his ranks as such: Second Lieutenant in the 16th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing during the Korean War; First Lieutenant as an aerial gunnery instructor at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada; Captain at the USAF Academy in Colorado; Captain/Wing Commander in the 22nd Fighter Day Squadron (Tactical Fighter), 36th Fighter Day Wing; Major at the Air Force Systems Command (AFSC), shortly after earning a Sc.D. degree in astronautics, and then as one of 14 members of NASA Astronaut Group 3, which selected Aldrin as an astronaut for the Gemini Program; and Major in the 1st USAF Space Activity Squadron with NASA.
Of considerable highlight are the final two OERs, both of which are signed at the conclusion by Thomas Stafford, Chief of the Astronaut Office, and Deke Slayton, Director of Flight Crew Operations. The annual report for the period dating from January 15, 1969 to January 14, 1970, features Aldrin’s Identification Data, Duties, Rating Factors, Overall Evaluation, Promotion Potential, and Comments, with the latter reading: “Colonel Aldrin was assigned as the lunar module pilot for the first lunar landing mission. In this position he developed procedures for the first powered descent of the Lunar Module and the lunar surface extravehicular activities. His performance during the Apollo 11 mission was outstanding in every detail.” An accompanying copy of a comment section from NASA Administrator T. O. Paine bears a single handwritten line: “An outstanding man in all respects.”
The second OER, dated between January 15, 1970 to January 14, 1971, relates to Aldrin’s final position with NASA, with the comment section reading: “Colonel Aldrin was assigned as an astronaut participant in the Source Selection Board to select the contractors for the Phase B Studies of the Space Shuttle Program. He effectively used his background experience from the Gemini and Apollo programs in providing operational inputs during the source selection proceedings. He has made many notable contributions to the space shuttle and space station programs.” An accompanying endorsement signed by Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Morgan, in part: “I totally concur with the rater’s evaluation and comments concerning Col. Aldrin. His contribution to the nation’s space program has been truly outstanding…I am fully confident that he is completely capable of assuming significantly increased responsibility either in an Air Force command position or in directing a major R and D effort.”
While always of strong grade, the totality of Aldrin’s Effectiveness Reports reveal consistent growth over the course of his USAF career, with skill sections (Job Knowledge, Cooperation, Judgment, Reliability and Personal Responsibility, Leadership, and Growth Potential), overall evaluation, and comments of reporting officer of continuous high mark and commendation; an example of praise, dated from December 1954: “Lt. Aldrin’s energetic, aggressive, self-confident attitude and ability to grasp essentials, coupled with his outstanding performance of duty warrant his being promoted in advance of his contemporaries,” signed by Major Kenneth L. Skeen.
Also included are eight USAF Training Reports for Aldrin, dated between June 1, 1951 and January 31, 1963, and listing ‘School and Institution’ locations like “3303rd Training Squadron” in Bartow, Florida, “Advanced Pilot Training” in Bryan, Texas, “USAF Fighter Weapons School” at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, and “PhD Astronautics” at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass, with the comment section to the final M.I.T. report reading: “Major Aldrin was enrolled in a difficult technical program. His academic performance was outstanding. As a result of his academic achievement, he became a member of Tau Beta Pi, National Engineering Honor Society. Originally selected for a master’s degree program, he completed all the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Science in 38 months.”
The archive also features: a glossy 8 x 10 photo of Col. Aldrin wearing his military uniform, with two punch holes to upper portion; two copies of Col. Aldrin’s “Officer Military Record” sheets, both dated September 1971; six identical copies of special orders from March 7, 1972, each directing Aldrin to be awarded “the Distinguished Service Medal (AF Design) (First Oak Leaf Cluster)”; five additional OER endorsement sheets, dated between January 15, 1964 and January 14, 1969, with the comments effectively each asserting: “Colonel Aldrin is an outstanding officer and astronaut. His personal contributions to the nation’s manned space program are a definite asset to NASA a tribute to the U. S. Air Force”; a group of 14 facsimile and carbon copies of citations and awards to be bestowed upon Aldrin, including: the Air Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, First Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal, Second Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom; and a copy of a letter from Deke Slayton from April 13, 1966, forwarding an attached letter of recommendation from Flight Operations Assistant Director Christopher Kraft, which reads, in part: “Although not surprising, it is evident that Major Aldrin has been and is currently exerting a similar influence on the Apollo Program in which the rendezvous exercise is not only a primary mission objective but rather is a mandatory operation for the safe return of the flight crew from the moon.” In overall fine condition.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.