Not only did John Glenn hold the record of being the first American to orbit the earth in 1962, he was also the oldest man ever in space at the age of 77 when he made his second flight into space in 1998. After his famous endeavor as an astronaut, he went on to join politics and served his country for over two and a half decades as a senator from his home state of Ohio from 1974-1999.
He was hospitalized at the Ohio State University James Cancer Center since last week and was declared dead on December 8, 2016. He had been struggling with health issues ever since he suffered a stroke a few years ago. His death was confirmed on Thursday by the communications director of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at the Ohio State University, Hank Wilson.
“We are saddened by the loss of Sen. John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth. A true American hero. Godspeed, John Glenn. Ad Astra,” NASA wrote on Twitter. [John Glenn: An American Hero’s Greatest Moments], paying tribute to the famous astronaut and a long serving senator.
President Barak Obama paid his respects saying, “with courage and a spirit of discovery there’s no limit to the heights we can reach together.” The president added “John always had the right stuff, inspiring generations of scientists, engineers, and astronauts. … On behalf of a grateful nation, Godspeed, John Glenn.”
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said, “Senator Glenn’s legacy is one of risk and accomplishment, of history, created and duty to country carried out under great pressure with the whole world watching. The entire NASA Family will be forever grateful for his outstanding service, commitment, and friendship.”
Here’s a brief history of his life and achievements:
Born: July 18, 1921, in Cambridge, Ohio
Died: December 8, 2016
Father: John Herschel Glenn, Sr. (1895–1966)
Mother: Clara Teresa Glenn (1897–1971)
Education: Graduated from New Concord High School in 1939, studied Engineering at Muskingum College – although he could not complete the requirements for a Bachelor of Science degree, he was granted the degree in 1962 after becoming famous as an astronaut.
* After the Pearl Harbor attack, John Glenn left college to join the U.S. Army Air Corps though he was not called for duty during his enlistment in the Air Corps.
* In 1942 he enlisted as a United States Navy aviation cadet.
* In 1943 he completed his training and was assigned to Marine Squadron VMJ-353
* He was later transferred to VMF-155 as an F4U Corsair fighter pilot where he flew 59 combat missions in the South Pacific.
* He was assigned to NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, and was promoted to captain shortly before the war ended.
* During the Korean war, Glenn flew the then new F9F Panther jet interceptor in 63 combat missions
For his services in two wars, which included a combined 149 combat missions, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on six occasions and the Air Medal with eighteen award stars.
* In 1959 Glenn he was assigned to the NASA Space Task Group
* On February 20, 1962, Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth three times during a flight lasting nearly 5 hours on board the Friendship 7 on the Mercury-Atlas 6 mission.
* As the first American in orbit, Glenn became a national hero, met President Kennedy, and received a ticker-tape parade in New York City.
On February 23, 1962, he was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal by President Kennedy at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Base.
His initial entry into a career in politics was a series of ups and downs and setbacks; however, he served as senator for 3 terms from his home state of Ohio which ended in 1999.
Despite numerous achievements, awards and medals he will be most remembered as the first American to orbit the Earth and the oldest man in space, a record which is still intact.
Late John Herschel Glenn Jr. (July 18, 1921 – December 8, 2016) served his country in many a capacity with great honor and dignity and has left a legacy for future generations to derive inspiration from. John Glenn’s service and contributions to his country is nothing short of remarkable and his name will go down in history in golden letters.