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One Small Item, One Giant Loss For Neil Armstrong's Ohio Hometown

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

This next story is about an unsolved crime - one small item, one giant loss for the hometown of Neil Armstrong.

RUSSEL HUNLOCK: On Friday, July 28, at around 23:59 hours, our department received a burglary alarm at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum that's located at 500 Apollo Drive here in the city of Wapakoneta.

CORNISH: That's in Ohio, by the way. This is police Chief Russel Hunlock.

HUNLOCK: Upon their arrival, officers did find that entry was gained to the museum. And it was discovered that a lunar excursion model replica was taken.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

A replica of the lander that carried Neil Armstrong to the surface of the moon in 1969.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NEIL ARMSTRONG: That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

BUZZ ALDRIN: Now, that looks beautiful from here, Neil.

ARMSTRONG: It has a stark beauty all its own. It's like much of the high desert of the United States. It's different. But it's very pretty out here.

SHAPIRO: The French jeweler Cartier was commissioned to mark the achievement by making models of the lander, one for each of the three astronauts on the Apollo 11 mission. The models are 5 inches high, 4-and-a-half inches square, solid gold.

CORNISH: Now, Armstrong gave his to the museum bearing his name in 1974. Chris Burton is now the executive director there. He says the community is outraged by the theft.

CHRIS BURTON: They really have given this expression as though they were robbed or their city was robbed or their community was robbed. And so we are here in Wapakoneta, and it's great to have this connection.

SHAPIRO: Police Chief Russel Hunlock is pretty bummed about it, too.

HUNLOCK: This comes as a very disheartening situation for us. And we want to get this solved as soon as possible.

SHAPIRO: He asks for anyone with information to come forward. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the FBI are helping with the case.

(SOUNDBITE OF ADMIRAL'S "TRUNK POPPED") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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