I know I’ve often talked about Deke Slayton’s special astronaut pin, a story that never ceases to move me. I recently found a photo that added even more depth to the story.
From Retro Space Images, this is a photo of the Apollo-Soyuz crew’s trip to the White House in September 1974 to meet President Gerald Ford, who had been in office for a month. During the visit, everyone in the ASTP entourage wore a lapel pin of the mission patch. This photo shows Alexei Leonov pinning the badge on President Ford and making him a part of the “team.”
Men’s fashion dictates that lapel pins should be worn on the left side of the suit, and that only one pin should be worn at one time. Everyone in the room that day was following this rule. Everyone, that is, except for Deke.
It’s hard to see in this picture, but Slayton is the only person who isn’t wearing the ASTP pin on the left side. Instead, as usual, he’s wearing his Apollo 1 astronaut pin. Other photos from the day show him wearing the ASTP pin - but on the right side of the suit, bringing his total number of lapel pins to two. Slayton had to wear the mission pin in order to fit in with the rest of the team, but he made clear which pin was priority.
It’s true that Ford was probably the fourth or fifth President that Deke had met; in fact, he’d probably seen him at several events before this day. Still, one might think that if there were any time to follow fashion etiquette to the letter, it would be a visit to the White House to pose with the leader of the free world.
But Deke didn’t care.