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In Tribute

Tim Sands Acting President, Purdue University

"Neil Armstrong is likely the most famous and inspirational alumnus Purdue has ever had, and he has been an integral part of campus life from his arrival as a young student in the '50s to today. This is a sad day for all of Purdue," said Tim Sands, the university's acting president. "He was a humble and private person, but always willing to talk to students. He was passionate about encouraging young men and women to pursue careers in science and engineering."

Keith Krach Chairman, Purdue University Board of Trustees

"The Purdue community joins the nation in mourning the passing of a great American," said Keith Krach, chairman of the university's Board of Trustees. "Armstrong Hall, which bears his name, serves as a reminder of his contributions, not only to his alma mater, but also to the nation and the world. His legacy will inspire generations to come."

Barack Obama President of the United States of America

Michelle and I were deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Neil Armstrong.

Neil was among the greatest of American heroes — not just of his time, but of all time.  When he and his fellow crew members lifted off aboard Apollo 11 in 1969, they carried with them the aspirations of an entire nation.  They set out to show the world that the American spirit can see beyond what seems unimaginable — that with enough drive and ingenuity, anything is possible. And when Neil stepped foot on the surface of the moon for the first time, he delivered a moment of human achievement that will never be forgotten.

Today, Neil's spirit of discovery lives on in all the men and women who have devoted their lives to exploring the unknown — including those who are ensuring that we reach higher and go further in space. That legacy will endure — sparked by a man who taught us the enormous power of one small step.

Steven Beering President Emeritus

Despite his world-wide fame, Neil was a very private man. He loved his family and Purdue. He was loyal to his friends and to his professions as an engineer and astronaut. He challenged us to be the best that we could be but he never used himself as an example. I knew Neil Armstrong for more than 50 years and I shall miss him a great deal. We can never forget he opened space exploration for all mankind.

Martin Jischke President Emeritus

Neil Armstrong was among the most remarkable of Purdue alumni. He captured the world’s imagination when he set foot on the moon. Not only was he an extraordinary astronaut, fighter pilot, and engineer, he was an extraordinary citizen. I always marvel at how up-to-date he was about everything aeronautical. He carried his fame and impact with such modesty and humility, the very qualities we admire in our graduates. This a great loss for the country and Purdue. My sympathies go out to his wife Carol and his family. He was truly the most extraordinary Boilermaker.

France Córdova President Emeritus

This news makes me feel like I'm in a time machine. It takes me back more than four decades, to when the human space flight program was young, and Apollo 11 was headed for the moon, with the goal to put two men on its surface. It is hard to describe the impact that event had on our nation and the world -- and especially on young people like myself who thought "me next!" Everyone was watching Neil Armstrong take humankind's first step on the moon. Grainy as black and white TV was at the time, you knew it was the real thing. And you wanted to be part of this adventure. It changed lives, career paths, dreams. For me it was a turning point.

After becoming a space scientist and being able to participate in space adventures, from robotic missions to Mars to deployment of Hubble and other unique telescopes from the Shuttle, I was excited to finally meet Neil Armstrong in person, at the opening of the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering at Purdue in October of 2008. He was humble -- giving credit to the engineers who put him on the Moon -- and reflective. He was resolute and had a strong central core of values, which he professed when called upon. Only two years ago he was testifying before Congress about the importance of investing in human space flight. His presence before Congress made a significant impression on those who listened to his carefully chosen words.

Neil has been back to campus every other year, most recently to award Sully Sullenberger, another member of the "pilots who land in strange places club", with the Neil Armstrong Medal. Again he spoke movingly about the contributions of Purdue scientists and engineers to the development of human space flight, starting in the early 1900's. Once during my time at Purdue I visited Neil in Cincinnati, to talk about how Purdue could help preserve his legacy after his passing. We had a quiet lunch and celebrated our birthdays, which are on the same day. I saw in his face the latest grand chapter in the history of our Earth's aspiration for doing what hasn't been done before. With first Sally Ride, and now Neil Armstrong passing, I feel a sense of losing more than two incredible individuals. I feel like the dream of human space flight that they espoused is slipping away, too. And I worry that the past ("a thin slice of time" in Armstrong's words) may not have prepared us for the future after all.

Scott Tingle Commander, United States Navy

Just a few days after my 4th birthday, Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on a celestial body other than Earth. He carried the hopes and dreams of not only one man, one crew or a single country, but of the human race. At face value, Neil’s historic steps have inspired me with a lifetime of dreams and motivation. Looking deeper, his lifetime of service and leadership have inspired generations that will strive to meet the high standards that he consistently demonstrated throughout his professional career and personal life. While we have learned about several explorers such as Magellan, Columbus, Lewis and Clark, the legend of Neil Armstrong and Apollo 11’s epic journey to the Moon will forever take center stage in our history lessons. And it is Neil’s lifetime journey that will ultimately be credited with opening space to everyday travelers.

Leah Jamieson John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering and Ransburg Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

This is a sad day for Purdue and a sad day for the world. He inspired us all. He would say that engineering is about "what can be" and gave us unforgettable images of just how bold and how inspiring the future can be.

He was proud of being an engineer, and we have always been enormously proud that he was a Purdue engineer.

James Mullins Dean of Libraries

Neil Armstrong carefully considered where he would commit the record of his role in space exploration. He chose his alma mater, Purdue University. He knew that at Purdue his papers and artifacts would be readily available to students as well as researchers. He hoped that his archival record would embolden students to look to space for their mission in life. We are honored that he chose the Purdue University Libraries' Division of Archives and Special Collections to house his papers. The Armstrong Papers are an important part of the Barron Hilton Flight and Space Exploration Archives. He will be greatly missed for his thoughtful and quiet kindness.

Al Diaz Executive Vice President for Business and Finance, Treasurer

Neil Armstrong was the embodiment of all that is great about America. His steps on the moon confirmed for all mankind that we can achieve anything that we set our mind to. He was a great American and a great human being. For those of us that had the good fortune to work in NASA at the time, he provided inspiration and motivation. Likewise, his footsteps at Purdue, both in life and in cast concrete in front of Armstrong Hall will continue to provide inspiration to America's next generation of technological leaders. It's obvious everyday that they will be his legacy.
(Diaz has extensive experience with NASA, where he was director of the Goddard Space Flight Center and then subsequently associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate)

Commander Gene Cernan NASA (retired)

Where do you start and where do you stop when talking about Neil Armstrong? He was a world icon, an american legend, his family has lost a loved one, and I have personally lost a special friend.

Neil represented all that is good and great about the nation. He was given a challenge and accepted it freely because he believed it was "the right thing to do," notwithstanding the risk involved. To Neil it was never about him, it was always about those who a generation and a half ago made it all possible. He truly was a reluctant hero, but the name of Neil Armstrong will live on long after we are gone. He was indeed an expression of American exceptionalism and was the leader of Team America in his day.

Official Statement From the Family of Neil Armstrong

We are heartbroken to share the news that Neil Armstrong has passed away following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.

Neil was our loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend.

Neil Armstrong was also a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job. He served his Nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut. He also found success back home in his native Ohio in business and academia, and became a community leader in  Cincinnati.

He remained an advocate of aviation and exploration throughout his life and never lost his boyhood wonder of these pursuits. 

As much as Neil cherished his privacy, he always appreciated the expressions of good will from people around the world and from all walks of life.

While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.

For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.