Neil Armstrong: Modest Man Who Made One Giant Leap for Mankind with One Small Step

Neil Armstrong was a soft-spoken engineer who became a global hero when as a steely-nerved pilot he made “one giant leap for mankind” with a small step onto the moon. The modest man, who had people on Earth entranced and awed from almost a quarter-million miles away, but credited others for the feat, died Saturday. He was 82.

An undated NASA handout photo of Neil Armstrong with an X-15 aircraft at the Dryden Flight Research Center in California. (NASA via The New York Times)

Armstrong, with his wife Jan and son Eric, ride in an automobile parade in Wapakonta, Ohio after making a return to his hometown, April 13, 1966, after the flight of Gemini 8. (Julian C. Wilson/Associated Press)

Aldrin and Armstrong practice lunar surface activities at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston before the mission. Apollo II was the first U.S. space mission designed to put two astronauts on the Moon and return them safely to Earth. (NASA)

Apollo 11 astronauts Commander Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. wave in Cape Kennedy on July 17, 1969 as they walk from the Manned Spacecraft Operations Building to their transfer van which took them to the moon spacecraft. (Bill Smith/Associated Press)

Apollo 11 lifts off the pad at Cape Kennedy, July 16, 1969. (NASA)

Armstrong and Aldrin plant the U.S. flag on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969. (NASA)

A footprint left by one of the astronauts is seen in the soft, powdery surface of the moon. (NASA)

Armstrong works at the base of the lunar module on the moon on July 20, 1969. (NASA via The New York Times)

After splashdown, Apollo 11 waits to be recovered in the Pacific Ocean, July 24, 1969. (Associated Press)

Ticker tape, tissue and confetti greet the Apollo 11 astronauts on Chicago’s LaSalle Street, August 13, 1969. (Associated Press)

People sit on the roof ledge of the Auglaize County Courthouse to cheer hometown hero Armstrong during a parade honoring him for his moon walk, in Wapakoneta, Ohio on September 6, 1969. (Associated Press)

Armstrong receives the first Congressional Space Medal of Honor from President Jimmy Carter, assisted by Captain Robert Peterson. (NASA)

Armstrong, a Purdue alum, speaks near a statue of himself at the dedication ceremony of the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, on October 27, 2007. (Michael Conroy/Associated Press)

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