Neil Armstrong was an American hero in the truest sense. His military service, aeronautical genius, and explorer's spirit led him to become one of the most iconic individuals of our culture.
He was born on August 5, 1930 in Wapakoneta, Ohio and developed his love for flight very early - acheiving his student's pilot license when he was only 16. Armstrong attended Purdue University on a U.S. Navy scholarship, studing aeronautical engineering.
Shortly after entering college, Armstrong was called to service in the Korean War in 1949. He flew 78 combat missions for the United States throughout his military experience, leaving the service in 1952.
Armstrong then joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) which later evolved into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
. He worked as a test pilot and engineer for a few years before joining the astronaut program.
On March, 16, 1966, Neil Armstrong piloted his first space mission, Gemini VIII
, along with David Scott. His first successful mission was followed by one of the most challenging tasks in our history - landing a spacecraft on the moon.
Along with Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin, Armstrong launched into space aboard the Apollo 11, destined for the moon
, on July 16, 1969. He piloted the spacecraft, landing on the moon on July 20, 1969. When Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface he uttered those famous words:
"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
Throughout the legacy of Neil Armstrong he largely stayed away from the spotlight, despite being the most famous astronaut in American history. Armstrong gave a rare interview in 2006 on 60 Minutes,
when he described the moon landing to his interviewer, Ed Bradley. He always showed support for NASA and space exploration, testifying in Congress against the President in 2010 when the Costellation program faced cancellation.
Neil Armstrong passed away on August 25, 2012, at the age of 82, after complications from a heart bypass surgury performed a few weeks prior. His family released this statement:
"For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink."
Neil Armstrong's funeral services will be held today. Fittingly, tonight is a Blue Moon
, the last Blue Moon we will see until 2015, in fact. A Blue Moon occurs when there are two full moons in one month - as the name references the rarity of the event rather than the color of the moon itself.
will live on for generations
to come and he will go down as one of the most important individuals of our era. Preserve his memory
and honor his accomplishments
by always remembering that the sky is not
So tonight, when you look up at the big beautiful moon, give it a wink and say thanks to a true American Hero - Neil Armstrong
, Rest In Peace.