Apollo 16 astronaut Charles Duke named 2020 Texan of the Year

Charles Duke speaks during a ceremony at Space Center Houston on Dec. 3, 2019.
Charles Duke speaks during a ceremony at Space Center Houston on Dec. 3, 2019. (Space Center Houston)

HOUSTON – Brig. Gen. Charles Duke, who served as the lunar module pilot of Apollo 16, was named the 2020 Texan of the Year on Tuesday.

The honor was bestowed by the Texas Legislative Conference during an event at Space Center Houston.

Duke, 84, was born in North Carolina and grew up in South Carolina. He’s called Texas home since 1975.

He is one of only a dozen people to have walked on the moon. His voice was well known to people during the iconic Apollo 11 mission when he served as CAPCOM and answered Neil Armstrong’s “the Eagle has landed” call.

“Roger Tranquility,” Duke said on July 24, 1969. “We copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot.”

Duke conducted a total of three extra-vehicular activities during Apollo 16’s mission to the Descartes Highlands. He spent a total of 20 hours and 14 minutes walking on the lunar surface.

Astronaut Charles M. Duke Jr., Apollo 16 lunar module pilot, salutes the United States flag during the mission's first extravehicular activity (EVA), on April 21, 1972. (NASA)

“General Duke is one of a mere dozen humans to have ever walked on the surface of the moon and looked back toward Earth,” said E. Ray Covey, chair of the Texas Legislative Conference. “His perspectives are unique and his efforts have paved the way for tremendous advancements in science and technology that we all enjoy today.”

A formal ceremony will be held March 26, during the organization’s conference in New Braunfels.

About the Author:

Aaron Barker has been a senior digital editor at KPRC 2 since 2016. As a meteorologist, he specializes in stories about the weather. He has covered Hurricane Harvey, the Astros first World Series win, the Santa Fe High School shooting, the ITC fire and Tropical Storm Imelda.