Franklin, TN — Scientist, Neil Bennet was 52 on July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11 became the first manned spaceflight to land on the moon. After half a century, Bennet still remembers the moment like it was yesterday.
"I was in Minneapolis, working for General Mills on the Wheaties cereal line when I heard we had made it," Bennet told journalists from his one-bedroom apartment in Franklin. "I remember I was in the lab, trying to figure out how to make Wheaties stay crunchier in milk when Cronkite came on and announced we had landed on the moon. It was bittersweet."
The historic moment was bittersweet because Bennet had applied to work on the space program no less than 12 times before giving up and going to work for General Mills. Documents show his interview assessment scores were drastically lower than the actual Apollo scientists who worked on the moon landing. Still, Bennet feels he deserves his place in history.
Bennet said, "Now, it is a little known fact that those Apollo scientists each ate two bowls of Wheaties on the morning of that mission... count 'em, two bowls! So, in reality, it was my work that helped fuel them to do their work. I sometimes wonder if they would have even made it if it wasn't for me."
Now 102, Bennet spends his days walking his dog, Luna, and telling anyone who will listen that he helped put a man on the moon. He said he plans to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the moon landing with two bowls of Wheaties and a Moon Pie.