Nation says goodbye to moonwalker Neil Armstrong

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Armstrong was a U.S. Navy aviator. He joined NASA’s predecessor agency in 1955 as a civilian test pilot and later, as an astronaut, flew first in Gemini 8 in 1966. After the moon landing he spent a year in Washington as a top official at the space agency, but then he left NASA to teach aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati. He later was chairman of two electronics companies, but mostly kept out of the public eye.

A private service was held earlier in suburban Cincinnati for Armstrong, who will be buried at sea.

In her homily Thursday, the Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Episcopal bishop for Washington, talked of how Armstrong sought to encourage young people to do even more, go even further.

Among the crowd in the cathedral was 14-year-old Shane DiGiovanna of Cincinnati, a young man who has spent his life grappling with an incurable skin disease and hearing loss. Shane idolized Armstrong and had always wanted to meet the first man on the moon, but it never happened.

But the eighth-grader met Cernan and former Apollo 13 commander James Lovell when they recently announced a memorial fund named for Armstrong at Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where Shane has been treated.

The Armstrong family invited Shane to join them at the Washington memorial service, something Shane called a “really big honor.”

Just as Armstrong was working on the lunar lander after the Kennedy speech, Shane said he is now working on drawings of a lander for Mars. He wants to be an aerospace engineer.

“I’m hoping,” Shane said, “to definitely contribute a lot to the next step.”

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Online:

NASA: http://www.nasa.gov

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Seth Borenstein can be followed at http://twitter.com/borenbears

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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