January 1, 2012 by staff
Buzz Aldrin, Buzz Aldrin (born Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Jr., January 20, 1930) is an American mechanical engineer, retired United States Air Force pilot and astronaut who was the Lunar Module pilot on Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing in history. On July 20, 1969, he was the second human being to set foot on the Moon, following mission commander Neil Armstrong.
Aldrin was born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, to Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Sr., a career military man, and his wife Marion (née Moon). He is of Scottish, Swedish, and German ancestry. After graduating from Montclair High School in 1946, Aldrin turned down a full scholarship offer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and went to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The nickname “Buzz” originated in childhood: the younger of his two elder sisters mispronounced “brother” as “buzzer”, and this was shortened to Buzz. Aldrin made it his legal first name in 1988.
Aldrin graduated third in his class at West Point in 1951 with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and served as a jet fighter pilot during the Korean War. He flew 66 combat missions in F-86 Sabres and shot down two Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 aircraft. The June 8, 1953, issue of LIFE magazine featured gun camera photos taken by Aldrin of one of the Russian pilots ejecting from his damaged aircraft.
After the war, Aldrin was assigned as an aerial gunnery instructor at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, and next was an aide to the dean of faculty at the U.S. Air Force Academy (which had recently begun operations in 1955). He flew F-100 Super Sabres as a flight commander at Bitburg Air Base, Germany in the 22nd Fighter Squadron. Aldrin then earned his Doctor of Science in astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His graduate thesis was Line-of-sight guidance techniques for manned orbital rendezvous. On completion of his doctorate, he was assigned to the Gemini Target Office of the Air Force Space Systems Division in Los Angeles before his selection as an astronaut.
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