Friends remember Neil Armstrong as a reluctant hero

It may have been a small step for him, but Neil Armstrong's influence was certainly a giant leap for mankind.

He died Saturday at the age of 82.

Armstrong spent many of his years in the tri-state teaching at the University of Cincinnati and becoming an important member of the community.

Armstrong described himself as a nerdy engineer, but to the public he was an American hero and to the people who knew him, like Senator Rob Portman, Armstrong was just a regular guy. "He never thought a big deal should be made about him. He was, as they say, a reluctant hero."

Portman was a long time friend of Neil Armstrong who he says wore the mantel of hero with humility. "He always wondered what all the fuss was about. He was a guy who was gracious, he was humble, he had a great sense of humor, he was a dear friend."

Portman says Armstrong was the kind of man that would do anything for a friend. "I was asked to get President Bush to speak at a memorial in Mason, its just North of here. It was the opening of a new veterans memorial and at the last minute George Bush couldn't come, they were a little disappointed and I said I'll come and I'll bring a special guest and I asked Neil if he'd be willing to come with me and he had agreed to and I just can't tell you the reaction of that crowd. First of all he went to the memorial on his own first to check it out. He wrote a beautiful speech commemorating our veterans who he felt so strongly about."

Armstrong was also passionate about science. He said "Science is continually searching for a better understanding of ourselves, our world and the universe around us."

Back in the 70's Armstrong taught engineering at the university of Cincinnati. Fellow professor, Awatef Hamed says Armstrong was sought after by students. "They definitely wanted to join his class. He had experience of being an astronaut and being a pilot and an engineer so he was excellent and they got a great learning experience."

Professor Hamed says Armstrong was a great person to work with. "He was very easy going, very modest, very quiet and also besides teaching he did research not in my area of propulsion, but he did research with the medical school on heart pumps and pumps for the heart."

Armstrong made world history when he stepped off the Eagle and set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969. Hundreds of millions of people gathered in front of televisions around the globe to witness this monumental feat.