First Man On The Moon Honored During "Legends Of Aerospace"
A legendary astronaut and former Navy pilot received a pair of
honorary Naval Astronaut Wings in a ceremony aboard USS Dwight D.
Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike) March 10 in recognition for his dedicated
service to the Navy and in the field of space exploration. Neil
Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon July 20, 1969, was
aboard Ike as part of the "Legends of Aerospace" tour sponsored by
"Today is a special occasion for all of naval aviation. As you
can imagine, it is a tremendous honor for me to present Neil
Armstrong with astronaut wings," said Ike's Commanding Officer,
Capt. Dee L. Mewbourne. "We present these wings on behalf of the
generations of naval aviators – past, present and
Described by many as humble and unassuming, Armstrong accepted
the wings with great honor. "I take these wings with great pleasure
and great pride," said Armstrong. "I have made certain achievements
in my life and been recognized many times, but, there is no
achievement I value more highly then when I received the wings of
gold [for naval aviation]; to be given a second pair of gold wings
is just as special."
Prior to the Ike visit, in a conversation with retired Capt.
Edward F. Bronson, Armstrong, who served as a naval aviator from
1949 to 1952, mentioned he never received a pair Naval Astronaut
Wings. The wings were not authorized prior to 1961 when they were
first presented to Cmdr. Alan Shepard Jr.
Armstrong qualified for carrier landing aboard the USS Cabot
(CVL 28) and USS Wright (CVL 49) in 1949. He qualified as a naval
aviator in 1950, and made his first jet carrier landing on USS
Essex (CV 9) in 1951 while assigned to Fighter Squadron 51. During
the ceremony, Armstrong said that since that time nearly everything
in his career has had its roots in naval aviation. "I have learned
so much throughout my career and I owe a tremendous amount to the
Navy," he said.
Mewbourne expressed gratitude to Armstrong for enriching the
lives of all Ike's Sailors by visiting the ship and sharing his
stories and experiences. "You reminded us that we need to push the
envelope every day, but also stay professional," said
As Mewbourne and Capt. Roy Kelley, commander, Carrier Air Wing
7, pinned on the wings, Armstrong's friend and Apollo 13 astronaut
Jim Lovell joked that it was tradition to throw the recipient in a
lake after he received his wings.
Armstrong offered these final words to the crowd, "You will be
surprised how much of this [the Navy] will follow you through the
rest of your life," said Armstrong. "You all have a long naval life
ahead of you, and it's great."
Others in attendance, as part of the "Legends of Aerospace"
tour were Gene Cernan, the last man on the moon, retired Brig. Gen.
Steve Ritchie, the last Air Force pilot ace, and Bob Gilliland, a
test pilot and the first man to ever fly the SR 71 Blackbird, known
then as the fastest and highest-flying production aircraft in the
Eisenhower is underway in the Persian Gulf on a regularly
scheduled deployment to the 5th Fleet. Operations in the 5th Fleet
AOR are focused on reassuring regional partners of the coalition's
commitment to help set conditions for security and stability. U.S.
forces maintain a naval and air presence in the region that deters
destabilizing activities while safeguarding the region's vital
links to the global economy.
ANN Salutes Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Amy
Kirk, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Public Affairs.