Neil Armstrong, the Ohio born NASA astronaut who thrilled the world on July 20, 1969, when he stepped out of the Apollo 11 space capsule and onto the surface of the moon, died today.
After three years as a Navy pilot, in 1955 he signed on with NASA's precursor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. In 1958, NACA became the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Armstrong continued his stellar career under the renamed organization.
In 1962, he became an official astronaut. Four years later he was the first man to dock two vehicles in space.
On July 20, 1969, a global gasp went up when, as Commander of Apollo 11, he set foot on the moon and said, "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."
That very day, then Ohio Governor James Rhodes proposed that Armstrong's hometown of Wapakoneta build a museum in his honor. Three years later to the day, the Armstrong Air and Space Museum opened its doors to the public.
Over the years, Armstrong earned endless accolades, awards, degrees, and the adoration of a nation. The latter puzzled him the most as he was, indeed, a reluctant hero. He always maintained he was just doing his job.
His family summed up his life thus: "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."
Armstrong, who had had heart surgery a few weeks ago, was 82 years old.