Historical societies launch space initiative



WAPAKONETA — The Auglaize County Historical Society and the village historical societies of Auglaize County are launching a new initiative, “Our Men and Women in Air and Space,” in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. The goal of the initiative is to document all natives of Auglaize County, living and deceased, who have been involved with aviation and space.

“This year the focus of the world will be on Apollo 11, especially the life and accomplishments of our county’s own, Neil Armstrong,” said Rachel Barber, administrator for the Auglaize County Historical Society. “We would like to gather the stories of the many others from here who have also contributed to the history of flight and the exploration of space.”

Neil Armstrong himself who inspired this project. In a 2001 oral history interview for NASA, Armstrong credited those behind the scenes for the (Apollo 11) mission’s success: “When you have hundreds of thousands of people all doing their job a little better than they have to, you get an improvement in performance. And that’s the only reason we could have pulled this whole thing off.”

“Neil Armstrong was known as a great team player, someone who always gave credit to those with whom he worked,” said Barber. “The historical societies of Auglaize County would like to ‘give credit’ to others from our communities who have made aviation and space a significant part of their lives.”

One such example is Second Lt. Bennett M. Staton, born on Jan. 20, 1996, who grew up in New Bremen.

According to his family, Bennett attended New Bremen High School, where he was a member of the varsity football and baseball teams and the National Honor Society. He graduated in 2014 as the class president and salutatorian. He also earned his Eagle Scout Award with Troop 95 and was named the American Legion Eagle Scout of the year for the State of Ohio in 2013.

Bennett received an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, where he studied aeronautical engineering and soloed in powered flight. After graduating in May 2018 with academic honors, he was sent to the Air Force Institute of Technology to earn his master’s degree in aeronautical engineering. Upon graduation in March 2020 he will be sent to Columbus AFB in Mississippi to attend flight training.

Bennett has always looked up to the example that Armstrong set and aspires to contribute to the advancement of aviation and space exploration. .

Another Auglaize County native involved in aviation or space is Wapakoneta High School graduate Kip Katterhenry. An engineer, Katterhenry was pivotal in the repair of the Hubble telescope a quarter century ago. He will speak on June 10 in Wapakoneta as part of the First on the Moon celebration.

The historical societies request that those with information about Auglaize County men and women involved in aviation and/or space contact them with information similar to that provided by the Staton family, above. This information will be stored in the archives of the historical societies and will also be used for the group’s fair exhibit in 2019.

Those who are unsure how to contact their local historical society may contact the Auglaize County Historical Society, auglaizecountyhistory@bright.net, or through Facebook, Auglaize County Historical Society.

Founded in 1963, the Auglaize County Historical Society collects, preserves, interprets, and shares the history of Auglaize County, enriching lives by connecting people and communities to the past and to each other.