Neil Armstrong

August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Neil Alden Armstrong was a decorated naval fighter pilot, test pilot and astronaut who will be remembered throughout history as the first human to walk on the moon. Born and raised in the aviation hotbed of Ohio, Armstrong would leave college to fly jets for the U.S. Navy during the Korean war. He flew 78 missions in an F9F Panther during the conflict based from the USS Essex aircraft carrier, earning several distinguished awards for his service. After the war, he finished college and served in the U.S. Navy Reserve. He became a test pilot in 1955 and eventually an employee of the newly formed National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Now a civilian, Armstrong was not eligible to be selected for Project Mercury – since they only considered active-duty pilots. But when that restriction was relaxed for Project Gemini, he was selected as part of NASA’s “New Nine.”

As an astronaut, Armstrong flew only two missions: Gemini 8 – a partially successful mission designed to dock two spacecrafts together in orbit – and Apollo 11 – the first space mission to land on the moon. As commander of Apollo 11, Armstrong was tasked to be the first to exit the lunar module and set foot on the moon on July 21, 1969. The event was telecast or rebroadcast around the world and is one of the touchstones in American and human history. In total, Armstrong and his crewmate, Buzz Aldrin, spent just over 2 1/2 hours on the lunar surface before successfully rejoining Michael Collins and returning to Earth.

Apollo 11 would be Armstrong’s final space flight. He retired from NASA and went back to Ohio to teach aerospace engineering. He served on investigative NASA committees following both the Apollo 13 accident and the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Armstrong mostly lived a quiet life after becoming a “reluctant American hero.” He continued to fly (he loved flying engine-less gliders). He continued to explore (he was part of a 1985 expedition to the North Pole). He mostly kept out of the public eye. In 2012, Armstrong died of complications following heart surgery. While his family held a private memorial service, a public celebration was held at Washington D.C.’s National Cathedral underneath its famous stained-glass “Space Window” which contains an actual moon rock from the Apollo 11 mission.



Specific Location

After a very intentionally private funeral, Neil’s ashes were scattered at sea from aboard the USS Philippine Sea.



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