Snoopy – MSFN Ascension’s mascot
This article appeared in the Bendix Field Engineering Corporation newsletter (PDF file) for September 8 1969. Preserved and scanned by Bill Wood (Goldstone).
Safety reminder leads dog’s life
By HAROLD DEUTCH
Long before NASA adopted Charles Schulz’s comic strip beagle as the symbol of crew safety and mission success, a dog served to remind Bendix Field Engineering Corporation personnel at the Apollo site on Ascension Island that excellence was a must for success.
Snoopy is his name and always has been. His mother was a Labrador Retriever. His dad? He was a way-faring stranger who passed by the island in 1966.
Now he’s three, and every morning he awakes at 6 a.m. Snoopy arouses his roommate Harry Turner, the track data and antenna position programmer. Together they go to the NASA site for breakfast and prepare for the day’s work.
Bendix M&O Supervisor Jim Murphy assigned Snoopy as doorman. He greets every man good morning with a lick and a paw but only after he responds to the dog’s signal with, “Whip one on me.”
Snoopy’s greatest responsibility is reminding the team each morning that its efforts for perfection, its struggle against carelessness, will mean success on the next Apollo flight.
Now, don’t let anyone tell you that life on Ascension is hard or that there’s nothing for a dog to do. Why, VHF Telemetry Operator Emil Voigt loves to romp in the hills around the station with Snoopy. John Staudt and Norman Israel of the receiver/exciter group will always accompany him fishing. In fact, they say Snoopy’s the best fisherman and swimmer on the island.
Then there’s Servo Technician Marsden Wofford. What a pushover. He’s always ready to challenge Snoopy with a rag tug-of-war.
Generally, Snoopy’s a mild-mannered pooch, but he has one weakness: sheep. After all, he’s only canine. Just the other day, Jim Murphy was awakened about 4 a.m. and informed by the authorities that Snoopy had gotten into mischief again. That was his last warning. Several times before, Rex Chapman, ranging and timing operator, had to bail Snoopy out after he had been picked up and canned for chasing those woolly beasts.
For the sake of the space program and, of course, NASA’s animated wonderdog, NASA Station Director Don Dunsmore encouraged the men of Ascension to take care of the living example of “Snoopy”, the first watchdog for manned flight.
P J Clark contributes:
I worked at the Ascension Island station from February of 1974 to July of 1979 with a one year break in 1976–1977. Snoopy often enjoyed sleeping in my room in the barracks when he was “down the hill” since I kept my A/C at quite a low temperature.
My fondest memory of the pooch was watching him ride between the station and the barracks. He would become quite upset if he was not allowed to ride “shotgun” on these trips so most of my passengers would take a back seat in the van to allow him to ride up front.
One of the funniest things I've ever seen was watching Snoopy lean into the curves of the road when he was sitting in the front passenger seat. He would begin his counter lean well before the actual curve in order to maintain his equilibrium in the seat. It was amazing to watch. He could even do it night; I think he had the entire route memorized after 100s of trips up and down the hill!
P J Clark
Savage, Maryland, USA