First American to orbit the Earth, John Glenn, dies at 95
Former astronaut and US Sen. John Glenn, 95, died after being hospitalized “more than a week ago.”
He became the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962.
Glenn piloted the Mercury space capsule, dubbed Friendship 7, and circled the planet three times in just under five hours on February 20, 1962. Of the original seven US astronauts who made up Project Mercury — Glenn, Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, Gordon Cooper, Scott Carpenter, Walter Schirra and Donald Slayton — Glenn was the last surviving member.
Prior to his career as an astronaut, Glenn flew 149 missions during World War II and the Korean War and received multiple medals and decorations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross on six occasions.
He resigned from the astronaut program in 1964 and pursued a career in politics, serving as a US senator as a Democrat from Ohio between 1974 and 1999. He even ran for president in 1984. But Glenn’s time in space wasn’t over.
At 77, he became the oldest person to ever travel in space. Glenn was a payload specialist aboard the space shuttle Discovery for a nine-day mission in 1998.
In 2011, he received a Congressional Gold Medal alongside Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. In 2012, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama.
This year, he attended a celebration that saw the renaming of Port Columbus Airport to John Glenn Columbus International Airport.
Glenn was 95-years-old.
“John Glenn is, and always will be, Ohio’s ultimate hometown hero, and his passing today is an occasion for all of us to grieve,” said Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich. “As we bow our heads and share our grief with his beloved wife, Annie, we must also turn to the skies, to salute his remarkable journeys and his long years of service to our state and nation.
“Though he soared deep into space and to the heights of Capitol Hill, his heart never strayed from his steadfast Ohio roots. Godspeed, John Glenn!” Kasich said.
Ohio State University President Michael V. Drake issued the following statement about Glenn’s passing:
“The Ohio State University community deeply mourns the loss of John Glenn, Ohio’s consummate public servant and a true American hero. He leaves an undiminished legacy as one of the great people of our time.
Senator Glenn was a decorated U.S. Marine aviator, legendary NASA astronaut, tireless public servant, and an unparalleled supporter of The John Glenn College of Public Affairs at Ohio State, where he served actively as an adjunct professor until just recently. He was an authentic hero whose courage, integrity, sacrifice and achievements inspired people, young and old, around the world.
Most importantly, he was a loving husband, father and grandfather. He and his wife, Annie, have been the definition of model citizens. Meeting them was among life’s greatest privileges. Spending time with them was a blessing.
On behalf of the Ohio State community, I extend my heartfelt condolences to Annie and the entire Glenn family.”