November 20th, 2013
I don’t know which came first. My love of newspapers or the space program.
When I was growing up, my father often recounted how his late brother, Ed Koterba, began his journalism career at the Omaha World-Herald, and how he would go on to write a syndicated column for the Scripps Howard News Service and The Washington Post. We also closely followed the Apollo program, my father often reminding me that Uncle Ed had covered NASA and had even interviewed Wernher von Braun, father of the Saturn V rocket, the vehicle that would eventually transport earthlings to the lunar surface.
Uncle Ed was a member of the White House Press Corps, traveling with the president and attending Kennedy’s live televised press conferences—the first by any president. He was, no doubt, present the day Kennedy gave his famous “moon speech.” Uncle Ed traveled the globe, filing columns from such exotic locales as the South Pole. Yet, it was his connection to President Kennedy that always piqued my imagination the most.
A month after Kennedy inspired a nation to reach for the moon, the president announced that Uncle Ed had been killed in a plane crash. The announcement can be heard here, at the start of this clip:
To hear Kennedy speak my family name, “Koterba,” is surreal. And I can’t help but wonder how the world might be different today had both men not met such tragic and untimely deaths.