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Obama, Romney Lead Tributes to Neil Armstrong

By    |   Saturday, 25 August 2012 05:38 PM

President Barack Obama and his election challenger Mitt Romney led the tributes to First Man on the Moon, Neil Armstrong, who died on Saturday aged 82.

Obama hailed the pioneering astronaut as one of America's greatest heroes.

In a statement issued by the White House, Obama said Armstrong and the rest of the crew of Apollo 11 carried with them the aspirations of an entire nation when they set out for the moon in 1969.

"Neil was among the greatest of American heroes — not just of his time, but of all time," said Obama.

"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."

Republican presidential hopeful Romney called Armstrong an "American hero."

Romney told reporters Saturday that Armstrong's death was "very sad." In a subsequent statement, he said he would take his place in the "hall of heroes."

Romney noted that he met with Armstrong "a few weeks ago." And said Armstrong's passion for space, science and discovery will inspire him for the rest of his life, adding "the moon will miss its first son of earth."

In announcing his death, Armstrong's family said in a written statement,  "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."

Buzz Aldrin, the man who accompanied Armstrong to the moon, sent out a Twitter message, "On behalf of the Aldrin family we extend our deepest condolences to Carol & the entire Armstrong family on Neil's passing. He will be missed." The third man on the Apollo 11 mission, command module pilot Michael Collins, said, "He was the best, and I will miss him terribly."

The people who followed Armstrong at NASA also paid tribute. "Neil Armstrong was a very personal inspiration to all of us within the astronaut office. His historic step onto the Moon's surface was the foundation for many of our personal dreams to become astronauts," said Bob Behnken, chief of the NASA Astronaut Office.

"The only thing that outshone his accomplishments was his humility about those accomplishments. We will miss him as a friend, mentor, explorer and ambassador for the American spirit of ingenuity."

And Bobak Ferdowsi, flight director on the current Mars Curiosity mission, famousf or his mohawk haircut, added, "RIP Neil Armstrong. Thank you for everything, for your sacrifices, achievements, and inspiration. We will try to carry on your legacy."



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