From a barren field in Florida a few miles from the John F. Kennedy Space Center, Plainview engineer Stanley Millman was an eyewitness to the world's most iconic and arguably important space mission.
It was there, on July 16, 1969, that his teary eyes never left the historic launch of the Apollo 11 flight as it departed for the moon with astronaut Neil Armstrong as its commander.
Millman, of Plainview, a spacecraft troubleshooter, died Nov. 9 at home after a second battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, his family said. He was 83.
In 1969, millions around the globe watched the black-and-white telecast of the launch. Near the Space Center in Cape Canaveral, residents crowded highways and beaches for a glimpse of the epic moment.
Millman, an engineer who worked on navigational systems for America's space programs troubleshooting spaceships and debriefing astronauts once they returned from orbit, had been invited by NASA to watch the liftoff in the field alongside famous people such as aviator Charles Lindbergh.
"When it [Apollo 11] went up, the Earth shook and your body shook with it. There wasn't a dry eye. We were in absolute awe in what we were watching. It was the experience of a lifetime. . . . It looked like a tremendous bullet shooting up in the sky," said Millman's wife, Claire Millman, 82.
"The resurgence of the cancer [came], and then everything went downhill and I lost him. It's been really unreal," she said.
Millman was born in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn, where he also attended Boys High School.
The couple married in 1955 after meeting in their late teens while attending Brooklyn College.
On their first day of history class, they coincidentally sat next to each other. "I guess it was meant to be," Claire Millman said.
Millman graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1952, his wife said. He was drafted into the Army in 1953 and served a two-year stint at Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Arizona, where he became a corporal and was awarded a sharpshooting medal.
A math whiz, according to relatives, Millman went on to obtain a master's degree in electrical engineering from Columbia University.
He worked at Syosset-based Kollsman Instrument Corp., an engineering firm, for 19 years.
Eventually, he rose to senior vice president of Bohemia-based ILC Data Device Corp., another engineering firm.
Viewing the Apollo 11 launch was Millman's defining moment, family members said.
"It was an American dream. It was space-age. Dad was an overnight sensation," said his daughter Sherry Purzak, of Plainview.
Other survivors include another daughter, Laurie Millman-Freedman of Leverett, Massachusetts. Burial was at New Montefiore Cemetery in Farmingdale.