Apollo 13: eBay, we have a problem

One of the cool stories of the week. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced that it had recovered astronaut James Lovell's - Commander of the ill-fated Apollo XIII space mission - Presidential Medal of Freedom that had been missing since April, 1970.

Houston, we have a medal

Lovell, most well-known for uttering the phrase, "Houston, we have a problem," and was portrayed by Tom Hanks in the 1995 movie "Apollo 13."

Apollo 13 was plagued by a variety of problems and through an amazing amount of NASA ingenuity and astrnonaut skill and more than a little luck, the crew (including Fred Haise and Jack Swigert) returned home safely in April 1970. President Richard Nixon presented the three Apollo 13 astronauts with the Freedom medals - the highest civilian award recognizing meritorious service. According to an FBI release, the medal in question was originally produced for presentation to Lovell that month in 1970 but a defect was detected in the medal prior to the presentation ceremony and a replacement was manufactured. The defective medal was to be destroyed, however, it apparently never was. The FBI said it "found it's way out of the White House and eventually into the hands of a private collector in Pennsylvania." Long story short, Lovell learned that the defective medal was being offered for sale on eBay, earlier this year. A woman in Pennsylvania who told authorities it once belonged to her father, posted it on eBay in January and it was selling then for $5,000, according to a Chicago Sun-Times story. The woman, who has not been charged, told the FBI an individual got the medal from the White House years ago and gave it to her father. The FBI said it is still investigating how the circumstances. Meanwhile concerned about the propriety of the auction and the potential negative effect it might have on the medal as well as other recipients of the award, Lovell contacted the Chicago FBI. Investigation by the cyber crimes unit identified the seller and led to the recovery of the medal, late last month, the FBI said. The authenticity of the recovered medal has been verified by the White House. The medal presented to Lovell in 1970 is still in his possession, according to the FBI release.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

IT Salary Survey 2021: The results are in