Lexington Sailor remembered for impact on Apollo 11

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Aviation Museum in Lexington is honoring the commonwealth’s connection to Apollo 11, a former Sailor.

The late Max Hellmueller was a crane operator on the U.S.S. Hornet. The same ship that pulled Apollo 11’s astronauts out of the water upon landing back on Earth.

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Hellmueller worked as a volunteer at the Aviation Museum and donated his photos of the event.

Victor Tamariz worked with him and said he knew Hellmueller worked the crane, but had no idea of the story of how it came to be, until Hellmueller’s son came through the museum a few weeks ago.

Tamariz said, “he had a mate who also operated the crane, and they flipped a coin because they knew it was going to be important.”

“I guess the thing that he was most afraid of was dropping the capsule before it got on the ship,” he said.

He said he’ll never forget how the friend and coworker he cleaned and swept floors with at the museum was the same man who got to be a part of such a historic moment for America.

“I Never in my wildest dreams think I would actually get to meet someone that had Max’s contacts with Apollo 11,” Tamariz said.

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Monica Harkins joined the ABC 36 News team in June 2019 as a Multimedia journalist and Anchor/Producer. She’s born and raised in Austin, Texas and headed “North,” as she calls it, to study broadcast journalism and business at the University of Missouri. While at Mizzou she anchored and reported for KOMU 8 News, an NBC affiliate in Columbia, Missouri all four years. During her childhood she played almost every sport, but they always called her “Hollywood” for her love of theatre. In high school, she realized her excitement for theatre and performing was only a small piece of the puzzle. It’s story telling that’s her passion. She’s especially passionate about social media and creative platforms to tell stories. Her most recent experiment is being a FAA certified drone pilot. As a proud Texan she says she’s made of country music, Southern hospitality and Sweet Tea. When she’s not at work you can find her trying new recipes, listening to crime podcasts, reading the latest romance novel or rockin’ out to live music with friends. She says she’s only a tweet or Facebook message away, so say hi and send her the latest on your community. @MonicaHarkinstv or Mharkins@wtvq.com