American astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man ever to set foot on the moon, has died at the age of 82 according to a statement put out by his family. Describing the iconic space explorer as “a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job,” the statement said “He served his nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot and astronaut.” Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon on July 20, 1969 and has been best remembered by saying “That ‘s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Born on Aug. 5, 1930, in Wapakoneta, Ohio, Armstrong served in the U.S. Navy and joined the Korean War before becoming an astronaut. After the war, he served as a test pilot at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics High Speed Flight Station. He left NASA a year after the Apollo 11 mission to become a professor of engineering at the University of Cincinnati.
I seldom use this blog for anything except to write about the Minnesota Twins and their history but I have to make an exception here. This man was a REAL hero, a man who risked his life many times for his country and the betterment of mankind. I still remember watching as he landed on the Moon on TV and it will always be something that I will never forget. I have had the opportunity to see several of these space capsules up close and to think that these heroes strapped themselves into these tiny little things and allowed themselves to be shot up into space is incredible to me. When you looked inside these space capsules you saw wires hanging everywhere, many of them connected with black electrical tape. I remember how shocked I was the first time I saw one of these capsules and how poorly made they were. Heck, we have more computer power in our cars than those guys did back then and they got to the moon and back. Incredible, rest in peace Neil Armstrong, thank you for your service and thank you for all you did for all of us.
Danie Brown of the Mercury News did a nice piece called “Neil Armstrong and the one giant swing by Gaylord Perry”. Take a moment to read it here.