August 27, 2012
By John Valceanu
WASHINGTON (American Forces Press Service) – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said he was deeply saddened by death of Neil Armstrong today, calling the pioneering astronaut “one of America’s greatest heroes and naval aviators.”
Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon, during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission he commanded as a NASA civilian. He also had a distinguished career as a Navy combat aviator during the Korean War. He died from complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures, according to a statement released by his family. He was 82.
“On behalf of the Department of Defense, I express my condolences to the Armstrong family during this difficult time,” Panetta said in his statement. The defense secretary called Armstrong “one of our own,” praising his service to the nation both in and out of military uniform.
“As a decorated Korean War veteran, as an astronaut for NASA, and as the first man to walk on the moon, Neil inspired generations of Americans to believe that as a nation we are capable of achieving greatness that only comes with determination, perseverance, and hard work,” Panetta said.
“As a true pioneer, his one small step showed all mankind the great feats we can accomplish when we set ourselves to the task,” the secretary said.
Panetta said Armstrong may be gone, but “his legacy of American achievement and national pride will live forever.”