MARION, Ill. (KFVS) - Mike Trude of Marion, Illinois grew up just like any other person. He was surrounded by family and friends and played sports. However, one family member of his was out of this world.
Mike Trude’s uncle was astronaut Neil Armstrong.
Trude was 12-years-old when Armstrong took his voyage to the moon 50-years-ago. And while most people were glued to the television witnessing history, Trude had other activities to attend to that day.
“My brother and I played on different baseball teams, but we had little league baseball games that day. So we played baseball,” Trude recalled. “To us it was just Uncle Neil. It wasn’t this monstrous moon voyage or anything.”
Trude was aware of the trip and did receive word they had made the trip successfully.
"I was kind of too young to truly appreciate everything about the mission," Trude said. "He'd been up in space before so him being in space wasn't a big deal to me. They made it to the moon, so I figured they were going to be able to get it, so, I watched the replay of it."
Trude had lots of great memories growing up with his Uncle Neil, Aunt Jan and their two sons that he shared with Heartland News. He said that his mom’s sister was his Aunt Jan, Neil Armstrong’s wife. The families spent much time together and visited with each other even thought they were living in separate cities.
“We would go on vacations back and forth,” Trude stated. “We would go to Houston and they would come up to our home in Barrington, in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. It would be two families just kind of vacationing. We would set up a tent out in the back yard. They boys would camp out overnight on a Friday night. Uncle Neil would do his best to scare us late in the evening.”
Trude remembers Armstong’s personality and said he was just a great person to talk to and be around.
"He had an incredible sense of humor," he continued. "He was always ready to joke on you and that was him. He was so unassuming as a man, just in everyday life, and here he had this alter-ego of Neil Armstrong, astronaut."
Trude also mentioned that he has been lately getting a lot of emails and messages from old friends from decades ago. He said it’s interesting to hear their perspectives five decades later of his uncle’s incredible journey to the moon.
"It's really kind of neat to get messages from old classmates," Trude said. "Last Wednesday morning, I happened to get an email from a friend that I haven't seen since probably our 25th or 35th high school reunion. He just happened to email me, hoping that email would get to me. He said, 'I remember sitting in the dugout that Saturday afternoon and a member of the local newspaper came by and took a picture of all of us sitting in the dugout.' He went on to say, the magnitude of what it meant to him today,' to remember back to that time in history, which now is in everybody's history books. Back then it was just happening. So the fact that it is one of the monumental times in the history of the world, is really kind of cool."
For Trude, he has been spending this past week talking with his family members and re-watching and re-living the moments his uncle Neil made history 50-years-ago.