Yusef Johnson was with NASA’s shuttle program for 14 years:
Mine was the generation that was just old enough to be inspired by the dying throes of Apollo and young enough to have our imagination fueled by the beauty that was the space shuttle. I was 12 years old when Columbia made her maiden flight; to me and others in my generation, the machine was just too cool. Technical shortcomings be damned, we really believed that a new age was coming.
He turned in his badges last week after the final mission. A good read.