On December 8, 2016, American hero, U.S. Marine fighter pilot, astronaut, and U.S. Senator John Glenn passed away. He was the first American to orbit the earth and at age 77 he became the oldest person in space on October 29, 1998.
His early story, along with his fellow Mercury 7 astronauts, is shared on the big screen 1983 movie The Right Stuff. The list below only cherry picks events from a career packed full of adventure and accomplishments. Though we hope you read the facts about Glenn below, we suggest that you spend more time digging deeper into a history of this American hero, who, when it came to life, did it right.
Eight Facts About John H. Glenn
- WWII Pilot – John volunteered for military service in March 1942. Glenn flew 59 combat missions and piloted the F-4U Corsair. He was hit five times by anti-aircraft fire and was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses (DFC) and ten Air Medals.
Korean Pilot – Again, Glenn chooses to serve his country, volunteering for the Korean War in October of 1952. There he flew 63 missions and is credited with shooting down 3 MiGs while flying the F-86 Sabre. He was twice more awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and eight more Air Medals.
- Ted Williams – During the Korean War, Glenn’s Wingman for several missions was Ted Williams, a Marine Reservist and of course the famous future Major League Baseball Hall of Famer.
“John Glenn? Oh, could he fly an airplane, Absolutely fearless. The best I ever saw. It was an honor to fly with him.” Ted Williams interview with the Chicago Tribune.
— Francisco Urena 🇺🇸 (@Urena) November 12, 2016
- Test Pilot – Following air combat in Korea, Glenn joined the Naval Test Pilot School and graduated in July 1954. He was a test pilot on various aircraft and nearly lost his life on two different incidents. One was while flying the North American FJ-3 Fury and the other in the Lockheed NF-104. He completed the first supersonic transcontinental flight in a F-8U Crusader. On July 16, 1957, he departed NAS Los Alamitos, CA and landed at Floyd Bennet Field in New York City in under 3.5 hours.
- Astronaut – In 1959 he was selected from 100 test pilots by NASA to become one of the Mercury 7 astronauts. On February 20, 1962, he became the first American to orbit the earth. He overcame two major issues during this historic flight. One was a failure in the automatic control system in which he had to manually fly the craft during its 2nd and 3rd orbit as well as during reentry. He also had a sensor show that the heat shield was faulty and a solution was found to safely return to earth.
- Friendship 7 – John Glenn’s children helped him name his capsule Friendship 7. The number seven was in honor of his Mercury team mates.
- Senator – Glenn, a Democrat, served as a U.S. Senator from Ohio from December 24, 1974 until January 3, 1999. During that time he was Chair of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee from Jan 1987 until Jan 1995.
- Family – Glen married Anna Margaret Castor on April 6, 1943. They remained married for 73 years until his death. They had two children and two grandchildren.
During his 95 years of life, Colonel John H. Glenn Jr. (USMC Ret.) served his family, country, and even the world through his space career. He lived his life to the fullest as a fighter pilot, test pilot, astronaut and in public service. Spanning his career, his days full of adventure and danger, Glenn has set a high bar for defining what a hero should be. Godspeed John Glenn, and we salute you.