Neil Armstrong is one of Ohio’s most famous people. Today’s release of the biopic “First Man,” which chronicles the Wapakoneta native’s life and the moon landing of July 20, 1969, is another reason to celebrate him.
Armstrong was born in 1930 on his grandparent’s farm outside of Wapakoneta and raised in town. He took flying lessons, and he earned his pilot’s license before had he had a driver’s license.
He later moved to Lebanon, taught at the University of Cincinnati and lived a quiet life. Now the movie’s release has brought renewed interest in Armstrong.
Ten years after the moon landing, the Armstrong Air & Space Museum opened in Wapakoneta, for which half of the cost was raised by people in the city. It features aircraft, space suits, a moon rock and more artifacts.
Later in life, Armstrong moved to a farm outside Lebanon where he continued to live away from the spotlight. When a Dayton Daily News reporter approached friends and acquaintances in 1994 to do a story about him for the upcoming 25th anniversary of the moon landing, some asked not to be interviewed about him or photographed because they knew Armstrong wouldn’t approve.
"This is what he liked about Lebanon - he knew he could come in here and sit at the table and be left alone," a golfing buddy, Jim Davenport, told the reporter in 1994 while having lunch one day at the Village Ice Cream Parlor, where Armstrong also sometimes dined.
Few people could’ve been more famous while staying out of the spotlight. Armstrong rose to stardom as part of the pace program and was the first man to walk on the moon in July 1969 as part of the Apollo 11 mission.
The Dayton Daily News of July 21, 1969, used the banner headline “Moon conquered, Earth beckons” to note the accomplishment.
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Armstrong died on Aug. 25, 2012, and celebrations of his life were held throughout Ohio, including at the Wapakoneta museum.