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Neil A. Armstrong Receives Thayer Award

Categories: Thayer Award, Events & Awards

Throughout a long and lustrous career in aviation and astronautics, Mr. Neil A. Armstrong’s service to his country has been marked by conspicuous professionalism and significant contributions. His outstanding accomplishments, spanning more than two decades of aeronautical history, have made him an acknowledged leader among American space pioneers. On 20 July 1969, a day of unprecedented historical import, his two colleagues and he instilled in the American people a realization of what dedicated individuals can do in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The first man to set foot on the moon, Mr. Armstrong thrilled and inspired men, women and children in every nation on this earth by his words: “That’s one small step for man . . . one giant leap for mankind.”

During the years preceding Apollo XI’s achievement in space, Mr. Armstrong performed brilliantly in a series of key roles directly related to aeronautical advance. Following his service as an aviator in the United States Navy including 78 combat missions during the Korean War, he was selected as a research pilot for NASA. In 1955, during the early years of this country’s aeronautical explorations, he was assigned to the X-15 project and piloted that experimental aircraft beyond previous flight barriers to altitudes over 200,000 feet and at speeds approaching 4,000
miles per hour.

Continuing his resolute efforts to further our nation’s space program, Mr. Armstrong carried out a succession of flight tests, piloting the X-1 rocket airplane, prototypes of military interceptors, the paraglider, and other aircraft in the early stages of their development. As pilot of the B-
29 “drop” aircraft, he participated in the launches of more than 100 rocket planes.

In 1962, NASA selected Mr. Armstrong to be an astronaut and later assigned him as backup command pilot for the Gemini-5 flight. As command pilot for the Gemini-8 mission, launched on 16 March 1966, he performed the first successful docking of two vehicles in space. Named spacecraft commander for Apollo XI – the first manned lunar landing mission – he became the first man to walk on the moon, an achievement of wondrous and astounding historical significance.

Over the years, Mr. Armstrong has continually demonstrated to his country and to the world that individual human courage, determination, and sense of purpose can attain man’s cherished aspirations in extending the frontiers of knowledge and understanding.

His selfless devotion to this Nation’s aviation and space efforts reflects the ideals symbolized in the West Point motto–Duty, Honor, Country. In recognition of Mr. Neil A. Armstrong’s outstanding contribution to Advanced Research and Technology in the United States space program, as well as his personal triumphs of the past, the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy hereby awards him the Sylvanus Thayer Medal.

Thayer Award

Since 1958, the West Point Association of Graduates has presented the SYLVANUS THAYER AWARD to an outstanding citizen of the United States whose service and accomplishments in the national interest exemplify personal devotion to the ideals expressed in the West Point motto, “DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY.”
The Sylvanus Thayer Award is funded by a generous endowment from E. Doug Kenna ’45 and his wife, Jean.

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