Purdue to honor Neil Armstrong

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN

Purdue University plans to honor alumnus Neil Armstrong who died, Saturday, at the age of 82.

Armstrong graduated from Purdue in 1955 with a degree in aeronautical engineering.  In 1970, Armstrong received an honorary doctorate in engineering from the university. 

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong made history.  He was the first man to walk on the moon.  Armstrong was the commander of Apollo 11.

"It was such a historic moment that the world was changed forever when he stepped off that lunar module," Stuart Shippee said.  Shippee is studying aeronautical engineering.

When Armstrong walked on the moon, many people remembered his famous words, which are written in front of the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering.  Armstrong said, "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind".  Besides the statue, there is a replica of Armstrong's legendary footprints in the grass.

"To me it's just completely inspiring to see how big the Boilermaker family is and how far we can go and how the sky isn't the limit," Purdue Freshmen, Rebecca Keutzer said.  Keutzer is studying business management.

Through the years, Armstrong has been spotted on campus.  He was a member of the "All-American" Marching Band in 1952.  Armstrong played the baritone.

"I've seen him corner students and tell them you gotta study hard, if you want to go to Purdue. He was very motivated," Purdue University Acting President, Tim Sands said.  "He meant so much to our students to our faculty and to our alums," he continued.

Armstrong inspired Shippee.  In 2010, Shippee met and spoke with Armstrong and Captain "Sully" Sullenberger, who received the medal of excellence, for being the hero on the Hudson.

"I came to Purdue 'cause I wanted to do... wanted to follow in his footsteps.  I wanted to fly planes.  I wanted to push the limits.  If I were lucky enough, I would love to go into outer space and, you know, he's about as good (of) a role model as I can have," Shippee said.

As soon as people found out Armstrong passed away Saturday, many of them placed flowers, took pictures and placed candles in front of the statue of Armstrong as a young student.  The statue is in front of the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering.

"It's crazy to think, you know, I'm starting my education here and eventually I'm going to have a degree from the same place a man as amazing as Neil Armstrong did”, Colin Kuntz said.  Kuntz is a first year engineer at Purdue University.

Another first year engineering student said, "It's very cool the Purdue community is coming behind him and what he's meant to Purdue".

"It really kind of hit me because, being a new Boilermaker here, it's very inspiring to see people like Neil who have made huge strides in the world and outside of the world," Keutzer said.

Armstrong was a member of the Phi Delta Theta.  His brothers planned a vigil, Saturday night, in front of the statue.  They sang a song and read a eulogy.

Purdue University Acting President, Tim Sands, said the flags at the university will fly half-staff.

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