Neil Armstrong, who died today at the age of 82, is being remembered as an American hero by Buzz Aldrin, the Apollo 11 astronaut who followed him onto the moon on July 21, 1969.

Upon hearing that Armstrong had died, Aldrin today issued the following statement through a spokesperson:


I am very saddened to learn of the passing of Neil Armstrong today. Neil and I trained together as technical partners but were also good friends who will always be connected through our participation in the mission of Apollo 11. Whenever I look at the moon it reminds me of the moment over four decades ago when I realized that even though we were farther away from earth than two humans had ever been, we were not alone. Virtually the entire world took that memorable journey with us. I know I am joined by millions of others in mourning the passing of a true American hero and the best pilot I ever knew. My friend Neil took the small step but giant leap that changed the world and will forever be remembered as a landmark moment in human history.

Armstrong's death followed complications from heart-bypass surgery that he underwent earlier this month.

Aldrin and Armstrong spent 21 hours on the lunar surface during the Apollo 11 mission before rejoining the third member of the mission, Michael Collins, who had remained in lunar orbit during that time.

Aldrin said in the statement that he had hoped to mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landing with Armstrong and Collins. "Regrettably, this is not to be," he said. "Neil will most certainly be there with us in spirit."

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