The cremated remains of Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, were committed to the Atlantic Ocean today, in accordance with the Navy flier’s final wish.
Armstrong, who took that historic “one small step” onto the lunar surface in July 1969, died at the age of 82 on Aug. 25, after suffering complications from heart surgery. An estimated 1,500 people — including fellow space icons, political VIPs, his family and admirers — turned out for a national memorial service Thursday at the Washington National Cathedral in the nation’s capital.
The setting for today’s burial-at-sea ceremony on the Navy missile cruiser Philippine Sea, operating out of its Florida homeport, was much more intimate. Armstrong’s widow, Carol, played a key role in the proceedings: Assisted by Navy Lt. Cmdr. Paul Nagy, she passed the remains overboard, then accepted the folded-up U.S. flag from from the ship’s commanding officer, Capt. Steve Shinego.