Just a Handshake…

The TFNG's the 25 new guys NASA class of 78

Class of 1978

Have you ever looked back on your life and said “Oh, that changed everything”?  One of those moments happened to me.  It was when our new Astronaut class first got together in 1978.  There were thirty-five of us and most of us didn’t know each other yet.  A reception was planned and we all arrived at the venue.  As I walked in, I noticed two very good-looking fellows down the hallway.  One was blonde and the other dark-haired.  As I got closer, I saw each had vivid blue eyes.  Wow!

I was a little uncertain as to what to do.  Fortunately, while I was in my medical residency, I’d had the privilege to attend some medical conventions.  I learned that when entering a room full of name-tagged people, it was appropriate to go around shaking everyone’s hand and introduce oneself.  I asked a knowledgeable friend what the etiquette was in those moments.  She told me the lady should always extend her hand first.

Astronaut Mike Coats class of 1978 NASA Shuttle Astronaut

Astronaut Mike Coats

So, when I approached those two new male friends, I extended my hand and said “Hi, I’m Rhea”.  Since they were both military men and had some training in how to be polite, they knew what they should do.   The dark-haired man said, “Oh, hi, I’m Mike”.  The other handsome, blue-eyed fellow said, “hi, I’m Hoot”. His hand gently grasped my hand…And I was smitten. So, I married him.

astronaut couple May 30, 1981 NASA class of 78

Rhea and Hoot – May 30, 1981

I wonder what would have happened if that point in time hadn’t happened.  Now many years later we smile about our first hand-holding moment – just a handshake.— Rhea

Congratulations Dr. Seddon and Capt. Gibson —Happy Anniversary! 40 years and counting!



  1. Happy Anniversary to both if you!

  2. Happy 40th you two! Are you off to Maui for this one too?

  3. Rhea- Great story! Thanks, John

  4. Happy Anniversary 🎉


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