Buzz Aldrin to be promoted to Air Force general

The second man on the moon is getting a promotion.

Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Buzz Aldrin, who joined Neil Armstrong as the first two men to step foot on the lunar surface during 1969′s Apollo 11 mission, will receive an honorary appointment to brigadier general during a ceremony on May 5 at Los Angeles Air Force Base, according to a press release from the U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command.

“Always honored to serve our country,” Aldrin, 93, posted soon after the announcement to his Twitter account. He also wrote, “I will bear true faith and allegiance,” which is spoken as part of the oath taken by both enlisted and commissioned officers in the U.S. military.

Aldrin thanked U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., along with the Air Force and Department of Defense for the honor.

The private ceremony will see Space Systems Command commander Lt. Gen. Michael A. Guetlein leading the promotion for Aldrin, the oldest of the surviving four men to walk on the moon.

Born in New Jersey, Aldrin is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy West Point and served as a fighter pilot from 1952 to 1959 flying F-86 Sabres in 66 combat missions. He shot down two MIG-15s while part of the 16th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Suwon Air Base, South Korea, according to the release. He also served as an F-100 Super Sabre flight commander in the 22nd Fighter Squadron at Bitburg Air Base in Germany.

He later attended graduate school at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, receiving a doctorate in astronautics that included a thesis on “Manned Orbital Rendezvous,” the release said.

He was chosen in 1963 as one of 14 members of NASA’s Astronaut Group 3, and flew on Gemini 12 in 1966 becoming the first man to perform what the Space Force called a “completely successful” spacewalk setting a record at the time for 5 1/2 hours outside the spacecraft, although NASA astronaut Ed White and Soviet Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov both performed short spacewalks in 1965.

On Apollo 11, Aldrin served as the pilot of the Eagle lunar module joining Armstrong as the first two of 12 men who landed on the moon during the four-year run of the Apollo program that ended with Apollo 17 in 1972. NASA looks to return humans including the first woman to the moon with the Artemis III mission slated for no earlier than December 2025. Aldrin would be coming up on 96 years old if that schedule holds.

With 21 years of active service, Aldrin received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Air Medals and other awards, the release said.

The Apollo 11 crew received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2011 and he was honored during the 2019 State of The Union in Washington receiving a standing ovation, the release said.

On his 93rd birthday, Aldrin married Anca Faur in a small ceremony in Los Angeles.

Aldrin continues to promote humanity’s return to the moon and a future landing on Mars.