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Neil Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012)

Neil Alden Armstrong was born near Wapakoneta, Ohio in August 1930. Armstrong’s love for flight began at age two when his dad took him to the Cleveland Air Races. His first flight occurred at the tender age of five.

In 1947, at 17, Armstrong started studying aeronautical engineering at Purdue University. (Armstrong had also been accepted into MIT but an alum said he didn’t have to go that far to obtain a great education.)

In January 1949, Armstrong served in the Korean War as an officer in the U.S. Navy. Upon returning, he finished his bachelor’s degree and then became a test pilot at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. He then later completed his graduate degree at the University of Southern California.

He joined the NASA Astronaut Corps. in 1962. His first space flight was as command pilot of Gemini 8 in 1956. On his second flight, the Appollo 11, in July 1969, Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (as well as Michael Collins) were destined for the moon. Armstrong was the first person to walk on the Moon — which he and Aldrin spent two and a half hours exploring! (Collins had to remain in the Command Module.) The trio were later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by then President Nixon. In 1978, Armstrong was also awarded with the Congressional Space Medal of Honor by then President Carter.

Shortly after the historic moon walk, Armstrong retired from space flight and left NASA entirely in 1971. He accepted a teaching position at the University of Cincinnati in their Department of Aerospace Engineering.

Armstrong married his first wife in January 1956. They had two sons and a daughter. They divorced in 1994. Later that year, he married his second wife, Carol Knight.

On August 7, 2012, Armstrong underwent bypass surgery to relieve his blocked coronary arteries. Initially it seemed that he was recovering well but later that month, on August 25, Armstrong died from complications. On September 14, Armstrong’s cremated remains were scattered in the Atlantic Ocean during a burial-at-sea from the USS Philippine Sea.