Charles “Pete” Conrad ’53 unfurls an American flag during his Nov. 19, 1969, moonwalk. (Courtesy NASA)
On Nov. 19, 1969, Apollo 12 astronaut Charles “Pete” Conrad ’53 departed his landing craft and stepped onto the surface of the moon, becoming the third person — and the only Princetonian — to do so. His first words on the moon included an ecstatic tip of the cap to his more staid (and taller) colleague, Neil Armstrong. “Whoopee!” Conrad said, according to The New York Times. “Man, that may have been a small one for Neil but that’s a long one for me.”
The photo at right shows Conrad planting the American flag during the moonwalk. He also carried the flag of his alma mater, and today, 40 years after that memorable stroll, that Princeton flag resides in the University Archives.
Conrad, who died in 1999 after sustaining injuries in a motorcycle accident, was a devoted aviator and engineering student as an undergraduate. After graduation, he became a Navy test pilot and later an astronaut trainee. He was known for his sense of humor, according to the profile below, which was first published shortly after Apollo 12’s safe return.