Ohio service planned for hero-astronaut Armstrong

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CINCINNATI (AP) - Lunar pioneers plan to attend a private service in Ohio for astronaut Neil Armstrong, following an event to announce a children’s health fund in his honor.

The first man to walk on the moon died last week at age 82. His family scheduled the private service Friday in Cincinnati. A public memorial service is being planned for early September in Washington, D.C.

Eugene Cernan (SIR’-nun) and James Lovell are expected at the announcement of the Neil Armstrong New Frontiers Initiative at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. The family has suggested memorial contributions be made to that fund or two scholarships in Armstrong’s name.

Afterward, the former astronauts and others, NASA officials, family members, and friends will attend the private service. Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio will give the eulogy.

Cernan flew two moon missions and is the last man to have walked on the moon. Lovell’s four space missions included commanding the harrowing Apollo 13 flight that was recounted in his book and depicted in the popular movie, in which Tom Hanks played Lovell.

A complete list hasn’t been released, but other attendees will include Apollo astronaut William Anders and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

Cincinnati Children’s spokesman Jim Feur said the hospital is still working out the details for the Armstrong fund. Cernan and Lovell were to be joined at the hospital by patient Shane DiGiovanna, 14. He has a rare tissue disease and received a cochlear implant that allows him to hear. The cochlear device was developed by a NASA scientist.

Armstrong’s family described Armstrong, who largely shunned publicity after his moon mission, as “a reluctant American hero.”

Raised in rural western Ohio in Wapakoneta, he developed an early love for aviation. He served as a U.S. Navy pilot flying combat missions in Korea, then became a test pilot after finishing college. Accepted into NASA’s second astronaut class in 1962, he commanded the Gemini 8 mission in 1966.

He then commanded Apollo 11’s historic moon landing on July 20, 1969. As a worldwide audience watched on TV, Armstrong took the step on the lunar surface he called “one giant leap for mankind.”

After his space career, he returned to Ohio, teaching aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati and generally avoiding public view for most of the rest of his life.

Armstrong married Carol Knight in 1999, and the couple lived in suburban Indian Hill. He had two sons from a previous marriage.

Two UC student groups interested in space will gather Friday evening on a campus lawn with telescopes for viewing the moon, and to hear some of Armstrong’s former students speak.

In announcing his death, Armstrong’s family requested that when people “see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

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Contact Dan Sewell at http://www.twitter.com/dansewell

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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