Letter from astronaut treasured

Emily AceSouth Western Times

The recent death of pioneering US astronaut John Glenn brought back memories for a Bunbury family of a special connection with the NASA pilot after his successful mission into space on the Friendship 7 in 1962.

The late Gertrude Drummond, daughter of Bunbury councillor Charles Eggleston, wrote a letter of congratulations to the Mercury astronaut after his safe return from space.

To her great surprise she received a letter in reply from John Glenn himself, thanking her for “her interest and thoughtfulness in writing about the flight...”

Mrs Drummond’s daughter-in-law Cynthia Drummond remembered her excitement upon receiving the response.

“She was very proud of it, she showed it to everybody,” Mrs Drummond said.

“She would never have expected a reply which is what made it so special.

“It was on TV and gosh it was a big thing back in those days, she sat and watched and was mesmerised by it all.”

A photograph of Gertrude Drummond and her husband Malcolm Drummond alongside the letter from astronaut John Glenn.
Camera IconA photograph of Gertrude Drummond and her husband Malcolm Drummond alongside the letter from astronaut John Glenn.

The South Western Times originally reported on the correspondence on July 5, 1962, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that granddaughter Janine Cole discovered the letter and newspaper clipping and realised their significance.

“In a time when women weren’t meant to be educated, for somebody to think ‘I’m going to write a letter to NASA’ I think that is pretty special,” Mrs Cole said.

“She has left behind a legacy, she strived for something more and did it when others wouldn’t think anything of it.

“I just wish we could have seen the letter she sent, it’s probably on file somewhere at NASA.”

Granddaughter Sharen Stewart said her grandmother always had her “finger-on-the-pulse” about what was happening locally and globally.

“For someone of her era, she probably never thought she would see the day they put a man into outer space, so it would have been awe inspiring,” Mrs Stewart said

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