You’ve probably heard that Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, John F. Kennedy, and many other presidents served in the military, as well as celebrities like Jimmy Stewart, Paul Newman, and Elvis Presley. On the other hand, here are some more well-known people that not many of us know served during the Korean War.

Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong
Navy Ensign Neil Armstrong poses for a photo on May 23, 1952, while stationed in South Korea. (US Department of Defense)

Before Armstrong stepped off Apollo 11’s lunar module and became the first human to ever walk on the surface of the moon and speak his famous “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” he stepped the battle soil of Korea first. His Naval career started in 1949. He studied aeronautical engineering at Purdue University through a US Navy scholarship and started with his flight training to become a naval aviator. However, his studies were interrupted when the Korean War broke out. In August 1951, he saw action in the Korean War, and just five days after his first mission, he ejected from the F9F Panther jet that he was flying after it was struck by anti-aircraft fire. His jet became disabled, and he managed to parachute out safely. He served for almost a full year, flew 78 combat missions, and earned three medals before he left service in 1952 and returned to his studies.

A few years later, he became part of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), later renamed as what we now know as NASA. There, he served both as a test pilot and an engineer for high-speed aircraft like the X-15 with a top speed of 4,000 miles per hour.

Fast forward to July 16, 1969, Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin Aldrin were launched into space as part of NASA’s first manned mission to the moon. On a historical day, July 20, they landed on the moon’s surface.