Ahr, ’68 grad, helped put first man on moon
St. Mary’s University alumnus Homer Ahr (B.S. ’68), who worked mission control on NASA’s Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 lunar missions, will serve as keynote speaker at the 14th annual Fall Commencement Exercises on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014.

Ahr, a retired IBM Consulting Architect, is a self-taught computer programmer who graduated summa cum laude from St. Mary’s with a degree in Mathematics and Physics. Just 13 months after graduation, he was on the console in NASA’s Mission Control for Apollo 11 – the mission that sent the first man to the moon.

“We were dealing with life and death. If we didn’t do things right, we could send the astronauts in the wrong place, and they would eventually die,” he said. “But we knew that if we could just get Neil Armstrong close enough to the moon, he would land it.”

A year later, Ahr was called in to support the Apollo 13 mission after an explosion damaged the spacecraft and forced the crew to make a dangerous return to Earth. His team earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award from President Richard Nixon for its efforts.

The University will celebrate the accomplishments of 297 new graduates, including 147 receiving bachelor’s degrees, 140 receiving master’s degrees and 10 receiving doctoral degrees.

Commencement exercises will begin at 1:30 p.m. at Bill Greehey Arena, located inside the Alumni Athletics & Convocation Center on the St. Mary’s campus. For those not able to attend, please view the live stream. Baccalaureate Mass will be held Friday, Dec. 12, at 5:30 p.m., also at Greehey Arena. Media are welcome at both events.

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