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John Glenn: Neil Armstrong pioneered way to moon

FILE - This undated file photo provided by NASA shows Neil Armstrong. The family of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, says he died Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012, at age 82. A statement from the family says Armstrong died following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures. It doesn't say where he died. Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon July 20, 1969. He radioed back to Earth the historic news of "one giant leap for mankind." Armstrong and fellow astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin spent nearly three hours walking on the moon, collecting samples, conducting experiments and taking photographs. In all, 12 Americans walked on the moon from 1969 to 1972. (AP Photo/NASA)

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."