Every home game, the Washington Capitals salute a service veteran.
For Wednesday night’s rivalry game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the veteran they recognized was an especially recognizable one: Eugene “Gene” Kranz, the man who successfully directed NASA’s Mission Control and brought the Apollo 13 crew back home.
Former Capitals defenseman and Hall of Famer Rod Langway congratulated Kranz in a ceremony and gifted him with his own customized Capitals jersey. Kranz, though, was already decked out in an Alex Ovechkin Stanley Cup champions jersey.
Many fans in the audience probably know Kranz because of Ed Harris’s portrayal in the Tom Hanks film “Apollo 13.” Kranz is also a retired fighter pilot and aerospace engineer and was honored because of his military service.
The crowd at Capital One Arena gave an appropriately hearty response to NASA’s second-most popular space hero.
Gene Kranz honored as tonight's Salute To Service Veteran. A true figure of American History and the loudest I've heard the arena cheer for something not related to hockey. Great job, @Capitals. #Apollo13 @russianmachine pic.twitter.com/9IyFpihkIe
— Mike McNeill (@Cadetbaritone) November 8, 2018
Kranz took photos with the Capitals’ anthem singer, Sergeant Major Bob McDonald. Kranz even gave McDonald an autographed a copy of his book, “Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control From Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond.”
Bravo to the @Capitals for honoring Gene Kranz at last night's game. @NASA Flight Director, Air Force Pilot, American Hero. He fondly remembered conducting the Army Chorus and NSO at a NASA tribute concert in 2009. And he gave me his book! #Failureisnotanoption #starstruck pic.twitter.com/30rthGok9D
— Bob McDonald (@bobinarlington) November 8, 2018
Gene, if you’re reading, can we have one too? We love space, too!
Headline photo: Capitals
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