Buzz Aldrin: First Mason on the Moon
By Most Worshipful Brother Geoff Edwards OSM
Published in the 2013 GLSA Southern Division Spring Ball Magazine
Buzz Aldrin was born in Montclair, New Jersey on 20 January 1930. His father, Edwin Eugene Aldrin, was a Colonel in the Air Force and an aviation pioneer. Buzz grew up in New Jersey and after completing his schooling at Montclair High went to West Point Military Academy where he graduated with a BSc in Mechanical Engineering. During an impressive spell as a pilot in the Air Force, he was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross. He went on to earn his Doctorate of Science in Astronautics at MIT and wrote his thesis on Manned Orbital Rendezvous.
Selected by NASA in 1963 into the third group of astronauts, Aldrin was the first with a doctorate and became known as “Dr Rendezvous” for his major contribution in the field of docking and rendezvous techniques. His innovative ideas for spacecraft in earth and lunar orbit became critical to the success of the Gemini and Apollo programs, and are still used today. Buzz performed the world’s first successful spacewalk, overcoming prior difficulties experienced by Americans and Russians during extra-vehicular activity (EVA), and setting a new EVA record of 5½ hours.
On 20 July 1969, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong made their historic Apollo 11 moon walk, becoming the first two humans to set foot on another world. They spent 21 hours on the lunar surface and returned with 46 pounds of moon rocks. An estimated 600 million people – at that time, the world’s largest television audience in history – witnessed this unprecedented heroic endeavour.
Upon returning from the moon, Buzz was decorated with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest American peacetime award, along with various other awards from countries around the globe. On 16 November 2011, Buzz Aldrin was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the USA’s highest civilian honour, along with the other Apollo 11 crew members, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins, and Mercury Seven astronaut, John Glenn (also a Freemason), for their significant contribution to society and for blazing the trail of exploration.
Aldrin was a Presbyterian church elder and took a portable Communion kit with him as a part of the small allotment of personal items that each astronaut could take. After the landing, but before the first moon walk, he transmitted a short message and gave Communion to himself.
Buzz Aldrin was also a member of Montclair Lodge and an active member of Clear Lake Lodge No 1417, AF&AM, Seabrook, Texas and another item he took to the Moon was an embroidered flag of the “Scottish Rite”. He also carried with him a Special Deputation from the Grand Master of Texas, J Guy Smith, constituting and appointing him as a Special Deputy of the Grand Master, granting unto him full power in the premises to represent the Grand Master as such and authorising him to claim Masonic Territorial Jurisdiction for The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Texas, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, on The Moon, and directed that he make due return of his acts. In the wake of Aldrin’s Masonic space mission, the Grand Lodge of Texas formed Tranquility Lodge No 2000, named after Tranquility Base, the location of Apollo 11’s landing.