Neil Armstrong, aerospace engineer, U.S. Navy pilot, test pilot, university professor, and the first person to set foot on the Moon, died Saturday, Aug. 25, at the age of 82. James Head, professor of geological sciences, met Armstrong and the other Apollo astronauts early in the program and has this remembrance.

David Savitz:
My first job out of grad school with a Ph.D. in geological science from Brown was working in the Apollo Lunar Exploration Program in site selection, astronaut geological training, traverse planning, and mission operations. All of the Apollo astronauts were accomplished, very intelligent, very highly motivated, and totally dedicated to President Kennedy’s goal of landing humans on the Moon and returning them safely. (They all wanted to go, and they definitely all wanted to come back!)

Neil Armstrong stood out to me because of his total dedication and professionalism, his unflappable nature, and his immediate personal acceptance of anyone who had something to say that would help accomplish the President’s goal — even a young twenty-something who was so excited about the geology of the Moon. And indeed, he did the job, becoming the first person to explore the geology of another planetary body. He was a great and dedicated American and a wonderful illustration of the type of selfless dedication that can make this country accomplish things that seem impossible.

We should all try to live by his example.