CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, said Neil Armstrong dedicated himself to his country and will always be remembered for pioneering the way to the moon.
In a phone interview Saturday with The Associated Press, Glenn said he will miss Armstrong and noted that he was a close friend. The two astronauts — arguably NASA's most famous — both hailed from Ohio.
Glenn recalled how Armstrong had just 15 to 35 seconds of fuel remaining when he landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, with Buzz Aldrin. He also recounted Armstrong's illustrious aviation career, including his combat flying in Korea and testing of experimental aircraft. Armstrong had his pilot's license before his driver's license, Glenn said.
"When I think of Neil, I think of someone who for our country was dedicated enough to dare greatly," Glenn said.
Throughout his career as a pilot and astronaut, Armstrong "showed a skill and dedication that was just exemplary," Glenn said. "I'll miss him not only for that but just as a close personal friend."
The 91-year-old Glenn was in Columbus, Ohio, when he learned of Armstrong's death at age 82.
Just before the 50th anniversary of Glenn's orbital flight in February, Armstrong offered high praise to the elder astronaut and said Glenn had told him many times how he wished he, too, had flown to the moon on Apollo 11. While not considering himself an envious person, Glenn said this year that he makes an exception for Armstrong.
Armstrong, ever the gentleman, returned the compliment. In an email, Armstrong wrote: "I am hoping I will be 'in his shoes' and have as much success in longevity as he has demonstrated."