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2013 Washburn Award Recipient

Neil Alden Armstrong

NASA Commander, Apollo 11 (received posthumously)

“We're going to the moon because it’s in the nature of the human being to face challenges. It’s by the nature of his deep inner soul...we're required to do these things just as salmon swim upstream.”

Neil Armstrong’s passion for flight developed at the age of two, when he attended the Cleveland Air Races with his father. In 1966, serving as command pilot of Gemini 8, Armstrong became NASA’s first civilian astronaut to fly into space. Three years later NASA appointed him commander of Apollo 11, the first of six manned missions to the Moon. On July 21, 1969, Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the Moon’s surface, perhaps the most remarkable milestone in human history. Yet Commander Armstrong struggled against public acclaim, preferring to stay out of the spotlight. After his death, his family said of him that he was “a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job.” In later life, he emerged to publicly express his unflagging support of continued manned space exploration.

Armstrong was the recipient of many honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a Congressional Space Medal of Honor. Upon his death in 2012, the White House issued a statement placing Armstrong “among the greatest of American heroes—not just of his time, but of all time.”