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America Loses A 'Reluctant Hero' — Neil Armstrong, 1930-2012

Vote in our Patch Poll on the legacy of his historic first steps on the moon.

His family called him "a reluctant American hero,' who was just doing his job.

But Neil A. Armstrong, who died Saturday of complications from heart bypass surgery, was a hero.

He was just shy of his 39th birthday when he lumbered down the ladder from the Apollo 11 spacecraft and stepped onto the stark lunar landscape on July 20, 1969.

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," he said, as Americans around the country watched in awe at the live footage from dark space, so far away.

That step fulfilled a challenge President John F. Kennedy issued in the early 1960s —to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.

Armstrong began his career as a Navy fighter pilot and test pilot before being tapped for a highly selective position as a NASA astronaut in 1962.

NASA's website this morning features a photo of Armstrong in his flight suit, with a simple "Neil Armstrong, 1930-2012."

“He remained an advocate of aviation and exploration throughout his life and never lost his boyhood wonder of these pursuits," his family said in a statement released by NASA.

And his family has one request for the American people.

"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.”

Share your recollections of the first moon landing in our comments section.

i don't get it?? August 27, 2012 at 12:41 AM
Icon...and humble hero...so sad.
Poindexter McSmash August 27, 2012 at 12:22 PM
Your answer should be yes! We have a lot to thank for the space program, and we are still making progress. Many things that we use every day were developed by Nasa. And yes, we are on Mars because of Neil and what he, and all of the others have dangerously done... ~ Have a nice day! ~
John Hayes August 27, 2012 at 12:43 PM
I asked my son, who was born two decades after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, if he was familiar with the name. Absolutely, he said! That's encouraging.
Don August 27, 2012 at 01:43 PM
The greatest generation is leaving us each day. There will not be another generation like this. A true patriot. RIP Mr. Armstrong and thank you for your service to our Nation.
Eric August 27, 2012 at 02:11 PM
GOD BLESS MAY HE RIP.... A TRUE AMERICAN HERO HIS STEP AND HIS WORDS WILL LIVE ON

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