Two of my astronaut friends could not be interviewed for the recent 50th anniversary celebratory stories about Apollo 11 and the overall space program since they perished on two other space flights that had no survivors: Ed White, my fellow student at the University of Michigan who got all As through his bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. classes; and Sally Ride, first lady astronaut, who was maid of honor at a wedding in which I was best man. Another former fellow Michigan alumnus and astronaut, Mickey McDivitt, had a successful mission.

I was not an astronaut but did get to sit in the Gemini 5 space capsule while on the ground at McDonnell Aircraft (today: Boeing) in St. Louis. I was a 21-year-old college graduate engineer and mathematician from Michigan, and also worked on the F-4 Phantom jet program for the Vietnam War.

Earlier, while 19, I got to work on the Gemini 4 space capsule program at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, while on summer break from college. Earlier still, at age 17, I met and spoke with President (and five-star general) Dwight David Eisenhower in Washington, D.C., who informed me my father was on his personal staff as an engineering corps major during World War II.

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Later on during my career I worked as a computer systems manager on the MX Peacekeeper ICBM missile program, and much later on in my life, I was lead engineer on the strategic defense initiative Star Wars Program at Martin Marietta (today: Lockheed Martin) Aerospace in Denver. Many other projects of mine were classified Department of Defense and Department of Energy "top secret" and cannot be mentioned. Working on them precluded my having time to complete my MBA and law studies at night graduate schools.

I reminisce about those days when I get upset by how the United States has declined to a modern day of destruction by a renegade, quite insane president of the United States named Donald Trump, who never served his country, but bribed, cheated and lied his way through his millions in inheritance and several bankruptcies and sex scandals, and has undone all I tried to do with my life. Color me angry.

I retired from all this at an early age to come to Glacier National Park and the Great Bear Wilderness Area to study and save grizzly bears, and educate and warn of climate change (which I first discovered in 1966) on my own. Now I am an old man in the sunset of my life and must step aside for younger generations to save wildlife and the human species from extinction from global warming scenarios perpetuated by Trump and his Republican political party. Color me very sad.

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Bill Baum is a retired aerospace engineer and computer scientist who is moving from his home near Glacier National Park to Whitefish.



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