An American astronaut, university professor, naval aviator, and test pilot, Neil Armstrong was a truly extraordinary man. His most impressive accomplishment out of hundreds was being one of the first men to set foot on the Moon. However, he started out as a normal boy.
Neil Armstrong was born on August 5, 1930 in Ohio. He was the first child of his parents and had two siblings. His father, Stephen, worked for the Ohio government. Due to the job, his family moved around excessively during his youth. In the period of fourteen years, they moved into sixteen different towns. Their last move was in 1944, and at this time, Neil had started being active in the Boy Scouts. Neil eventually earned the rank of Eagle Scout.
Neil began studying Aeronautical Engineering at Purdue University. There he met Janet Shearon, who was majoring home economics. They eventually married on January 28, 1956. They had three children together, but one of them died of pneumonia. A breakthrough happened when the Navy called him to report a Naval Air Station for flight training. A year and a half later, he was a fully qualified naval aviator. Due to his talent, and hard work, he was assigned as an escort during the Korean War. Neil was shot down once and lost part of his wing. He was able to fly the plane back to allied territory but was forced to eject because of the broken wing. Overall, he was in a total of 78 missions and was awarded the Air Medal, Gold Star, The Korean Service Medal, and Engagement Star for his role in the Korean War. He eventually left the navy and pursued to become a test pilot.
After graduating from Purdue, he became an experimental test pilot for Edwards Air Force Base. During a period of seven years, he tested piloted skyrockets, bombers, shooting stars, and space planes. Neil had many close encounters with death including once where his landing gear had malfunctioned.
Due to his experience, he was quickly accepted into the Apollo program. The funny thing is that his application arrived late, but one of his friends slipped it in without anyone noticing. Over the course of the years he participated in many space missions before his famous Apollo 11: Gemini 5, Gemini 8, Gemini 11, Apollo 1, and Apollo 9. Of all his space missions, his most famous was Apollo 11. Neil Armstrong was posted as the commander of the crew for Apollo 11. All was not going well as their craft was going too fast. They were expected to land several miles beyond their planned landing zone. They were given an error code of 1202, which no one on board recognized. Neil was not worried though, he had a lot of experience from test piloting. They had only a few seconds of fuel left when Neil landed safely on July 20, 1969.
“This is a small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
His famous words will never be forgotten as he landed. After Apollo, he has been teaching, was inducted in the Aerospace Walk of Honor, and was host for the New Seven Wonders of the World. With a life full of accomplishments, there’s no question the world will never see a man like Neil Armstrong again.