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Retired astronaut Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, died

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'Peace and hope for all mankind'

Former astronaut Gene Cernan, the last of only a dozen men to walk on the moon who returned to Earth with a message of "peace and hope for all mankind," has died. He was 82.

Cernan died Monday following ongoing heath issues, his family said in a statement released by NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs. NASA said Cernan was surrounded by his family.

NASA tweeted this photo of Cernan on Monday about their loss.

"Even at the age of 82, Gene was passionate about sharing his desire to see the continued human exploration of space and encouraged our nation's leaders and young people to not let him remain the last man to walk on the Moon," the family said.

Cernan, commander of NASA's Apollo 17 mission, set foot on the lunar surface in December 1972 during his third space flight.

Cernan logged 566 hrs and 15 min. in space, more than 73 hrs of them on the moon's surface.

He became the last person to walk on the moon on Dec. 14, 1972, tracing his only child's initials in the dust before climbing the ladder of the lunar module for the last time. It was a moment that forever defined him in both the public eye and his own.

Cernan is survived by his wife, Jan Nanna Cernan, his daughter and son-in-law, Tracy Cernan Woolie and Marion Woolie, stepdaughters Kelly Nanna Taff and husband, Michael, and Danielle Nanna Ellis and nine grandchildren.

Gene Cernan, Apollo 17 Pre Flight Interview

WATCH |  Gene Cernan explains the objectives for the Apollo 17 mission, and the sense of responsibility he felt commanding man's last voyage to the moon.

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