GALVA — Galva resident Jim Sisson was a 14-year-old member of the city's Boy Scout troop in 1969 when he was given the opportunity of a lifetime. His troop was one of those chosen to represent Kansas at the 1969 National Scout Jamboree, where the attendees received a very special and historic message.
Just getting to the National Scout Jamboree, held at Farragut State Park in Idaho, was an adventure for Sisson. He and the other boys flew from Wichita to Seattle.
"That was my first airplane flight ever," Sisson said. "That was quite a thrill."
Before going to Idaho, the Boy Scout troop got to tour Boeing and see the Coulee Dam.
At the jamboree, speakers were scheduled for each evening.
"During the week, we would have evening programs at this giant, three-screen amphitheater that seated the approximately 35,000 Scouts from across America and from around the world," Sisson said.
Sisson listened to speeches from Lady Olave Baden-Powell, the widow of Boy Scouts founder Lord Robert Baden-Powell, 1936 Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens and NASA astronaut Frank Borman, who was president of Eastern Airlines at the time.
On the evening of July 20, 1969, the Boy Scouts were surprised with a message not given by someone on stage, but coming from NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong as he was on the moon.
"There weren't any pictures, there was just audio, delayed from the moon," Sisson said. "He just said, 'welcome to the jamboree, we just wanted to let you know we are safe on the moon,'" Sisson said.
Cheers rose from the Scouts, who were well aware that Armstrong was himself an Eagle Scout.
Two years later, Sisson became an Eagle Scout as well — and is still the only person from the Galva troop to achieve that rank.
"It is still quite an honor to have been a part of one of the most memorable events in American history," Sisson said. "You always hear (about) where you were when something happened. I'll never forget where I was on July 20, 1969."