Former Savannah reporter recalls moon landing as anniversary approaches

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – In a little over a week, the United States will celebrate a monumental anniversary — 50 years since man first landed on the moon.

One Savannah man had a front-row seat to that history-making event.

Bill Whitten graduated from Savannah High school and spent much of his childhood in the Hostess City, but his career took him to far greater heights.

He said the Apollo 11 Moon Landing wasn’t just the greatest story of that decade, but what he calls “the story of a thousand years.”

‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” Neil Armstrong said as a nation watched.

As a budding reporter, Whitten was there to see it all.

“Just imagine being on the dock when Columbus left for America, being there to see the ship sail, which there was, but it was never recorded,” said Whitten. “Now, those of us who were at the Cape in July 1969 and got to see that happening, it was an opening of the heavens for the next thousand years.”

As a journalist, Whitten said it was the single most impactful moment of his life. He wrote a book about it titled “The Day Man Landed on the Moon: A Reporter’s 25th Anniversary.”

“What I remember, though is getting in the car at the press site to come back to Savannah,” said Whitten. “It took me longer to get out of Brevard County than it took them to get into earth’s orbit.”

The events of July 20, 1969, gave birth to Whitten’s love of space — and he has the memorabilia to prove it. Part of his collection is even on display at Savanah City Hall as part of a limited time Apollo 11 exhibit.

“You know you don’t always think about Savanah and the moon landing, but you never know. The citizens here have a wealth of history and experiences,” said Kelly Zacovic, an archivist with the City of Savannah. “It’s pretty cool to show that off.”

Whitten hopes his memorabilia will someday be on exhibit permanently, preferably in Savannah.

“I think we should emphasize to the children and people growing up that this is the future,” said Whitten. “Their lives will be in space. Maybe on mars and eventually beyond and they should prepare themselves and we have a great future ahead of us.”

Whitten is heading back to Florida next week just in time for the 50th anniversary. He’ll be attending a reunion for media members who covered the moon landing back in 1969.

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