Reporting Susie Jones
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - Neil Armstrong, the Apollo 11 astronaut who became the first human being to set foot on another world, has died. He was 82.
In a statement his family said Armstrong had passed away following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.
The family described him as a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend, and also as “a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job.”
When Armstrong set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, he fulfilled the goal that had been set by President John F. Kennedy just eight years earlier.
Bob Pepin is a retired University of Minnesota Physics professor. He also worked on Apollo Missions 13 through 17, but never met Neil Armstrong.
Pepin said Armstrong’s reputation among other astronauts was impressive.
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“Even then, Neil’s fame, and his reputation among the astronaut core for being the very epitome of what they wanted in that program, was very clear in working with the later generation of astronauts,” Pepin said.
He also compared Armstrong to Charles Lindbergh, but said while they were famous for the accomplishments, Armstrong conducted himself much differently in the aftermath.
“I believe he served a term in the Senate, and then became an academic and he didn’t really let his fame interfere at all with what he wanted to do with his life,” he said.
Pepin also recalled Armstrong’s strength.
“He had astonishing reflexes,” he said.
Pepin said they trained on a little platform with big fans on it, which simulated a lunar lander.
“And it had the nasty habit of flipping over and Neil was one person who always ejected on time and never got hurt,” Pepin said
He said Armstrong was admired for being such an amazing physical specimen.