The 50-year anniversary of the moon landing is fast approaching. Many have special connections to this historic event, and that includes one of our own here at News4. For one of our photographers, this is more than history. It's a link to his family past.

Thomas Davis is a morning breaking news photographer, shooting live reports through his two-by-three inch viewfinder. It's his window to his city. He's recorded history in Nashville, like the May 2010 flood.

"With the flood and some of the tragic events, I believe it's the journalism that brings a lot of the people together," said Davis.

To know where his passion for photography begins, you have to go back. Way back. 

"My father, he enlisted and joined the Navy," said Davis. "He ends up in the photo lab working with the photographers on the ship and ends up going to Vietnam."

Davis's father, also named Thomas Davis, has left hundreds of pictures spanning decades. All tell the story of a lifetime spent in photography. 

"Hawaii 5-0, he became the promotional photographer as that show came out," said Davis. "He ends up working with the Allman Brothers, was good friends with Greg Allman. James Brown as well. As he got to Nashville, some of his highlights were Hee-Haw."

The pictures and his father's old cameras all hold a deeper importance to Davis this week.

July, 1969. Davis's father was still serving in the Navy while history was being made more than 200,000 miles away. It was the moon landing. With the Apollo 11 astronauts' return to Earth came a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. The Navy sent a recovery ship to bring in the NASA crew.

"My father was part of the Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 splashdown missions," said Davis. "He did go out and journalize for the Navy. He went out and took official photos for them during that time. It's inspiring, y'know, to be a part of that story."

"It's time to share this with somebody. I can't just keep this in a closet or in a box to myself," Davis said, pulling out some old pictures.

Davis doesn't know how his father came into these, but he has copies of negatives from the moon landing. 

"You've got photos of these men who risked their lives to go up and make history," said Davis. "These guys definitely did go up there, and they did come back with photos to prove it."

On an old VHS tape, Davis had the day when, at 10-years-old, his father gave him his first camera. It was just a few years later, Davis lost his father. 

"A heart attack," said Davis. "I was there with him and knew what was going on and picked up the phone immediately. Just one night and he was gone."

The camera lenses may change, but Davis said someone taught him a long time ago the power of an image. 

"I don't think I was able to understand him as a man until I started going through the history of these photos," said Davis. "I realized my dad was speaking to me after he'd passed, and I'm grateful for that."

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Reporter

Forrest Sanders is an award-winning reporter, videographer and editor at News4.

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