Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon, dies

CINCINNATI - Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, died at the age of 82.

No other details about his death are available at this time. The Armstrong family released the following statement Saturday afternoon:

"We are heartbroken to share the news that Neil Armstrong has passed away following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.

Neil was our loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend.

Neil Armstrong was also a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job. He served his Nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut. He also found success back home in his native Ohio in business and academia, and became a community leader in Cincinnati.

He remained an advocate of aviation and exploration throughout his life and never lost his boyhood wonder of these pursuits.

As much as Neil cherished his privacy, he always appreciated the expressions of good will from people around the world and from all walks of life.

While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.

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."

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." With that, Neil Alden Armstrong made history as the first man on the moon.

Armstrong was born on Aug. 5, 1930 near Wapakoneta, Ohio.  His fascination with flight started early, he could fly before he could drive.  At 16 he had earned his student pilot's license.

Armstrong went on to study Aeronautical Engineering at Purdue University on a U.S. Navy scholarship in 1947.  Two years later he was called to serve in the Korean War.  After flying 78 combat missions he returned to Purdue to finish his studies in 1952.

Armstrong joined the organization that would become NASA in 1955.

He settled down to marry Janet Shearon in 1956 and they had three children, Eric, Karen and Mark. Karen died of a brain tumor when she was a toddler.

In 1962, Armstrong was one of the select few chosen to begin astronaut training. He served as a command pilot during his first mission for the Gemini 8.

He was selected for the Apollo 11 mission in 1968.  He would join Michael Collins and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin in the first manned lunar landing.

Just after touchdown he radioed NASA saying, "Houston, tranquility base here, the eagle has landed."

At 10:56 p.m. on July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong made history.  He became the first person to step on the moon's surface and land a craft on the moon. For this he earned the Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Armstrong served as NASA's Deputy Associate Administrator for Aeronautics until 1971.

After leaving NASA he took his passion into the classroom.  He was a professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati for nearly a decade.  

Armstrong returned to NASA in 1986 after the Challenger explosion. He served as Vice Chairman of the Presidential Commission on the space shuttle accident.

Armstrong divorced Janet in 1994 and married Carol Knight.  They lived together in Indian Hill until his death.

Neil Armstrong will forever be one of the most famous people in the world, but he was also famously private.  He shied away from the spotlight and in all his years only granted one interview to "60 Minutes" in 2006.

In his interview he described taking off as,"When you do get off you have that wonderful feeling, we did it- we're off and we're flying again," said Armstrong.

Armstrong, who once called himself a "nerdy engineer born under the second law of thermodynamics," denied dozens of requests to write his biography.  He gave in when he was 75 years old.  The biography: "First Man- The Life of Neil Armstrong"  came out in 2006.  Armstrong did not profit from the book but a share of the profits went to Purdue for a space program archive.

Armstrong was a space pioneer that leaves behind a lasting legacy.  As one New York Times writer put it,  "He's a space hero short on words but sky-high on Midwestern integrity."

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