John Glenn Story
John Glenn was the first NASA astronaut as well as the oldest man to travel space. He was the first American in the U.S. space program to orbit the Earth in 1962. He was highly skilled and dedicated person who ruled every field he ventured into.
Glenn was also an American Senator from Ohio as a member of the Democratic Party. He was a decorated fighter pilot during World War II and the Korean conflict with eighteen clusters and five Distinguished Flying Crosses, before joining NASA.
John Glenn was born on 18 July 1921 in Cambridge, Ohio, U.S. to John Herschel Glenn and Clara Teresa Glenn. He did his early education from New Concord High School. He then joined Muskingum College to study Engineering in 1939. He then earned a private pilot license in 1941.
Glenn was very eager to serve his motherland, hence, he quit college and joined U.S Army Air Corps when America was dragged to World War II after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He attended preflight training at the University of Iowa and then went to NAS Olathe, Kansas for further training from where he flew his solo flight in a military aircraft. After the completion of training in 1943, he was immediately assigned to Marine Squadron to fly transport planes.
After the Korean conflict broke out, Glenn was assigned to fly the new F9F Panther jet interceptor. He flew Panther in 63 combat missions earning himself the name ‘magnet ass’. He also flew with Ted Williams, a future Hall of Fame baseball player, as a co-pilot. Glenn received many honors for his services. He was then assigned as a test pilot to jet aircraft in Navy Bureau of Aeronautics. His most notable achievement was flying from Los Angeles to New York with a record speed to cover the distance in just 3 hours and 23 minutes.
Glenn became interested in space while on duty at Patuxent and Washington. He read everything he could about space. Glenn entered into space program as a participant in the National Advisory Committee on aeronautics. Newly evolved NASA started its first recruitment program for astronauts’ in 1958. Glenn was selected as one of the first seven astronauts in 1959.
He became the first American to orbit the Earth, circling the globe three times on 20 February 1962. His re-entry to Earth was at stake due to a loosened heat shield but Glenn managed to pull off by modifying the re-entry procedure.
Glenn was recommended by NASA psychologists as best suited for public life. He was requested by F. Kennedy to run for US Senator against Stephen M. Young. Glenn did not make a victory in his first two runs. However, he finally won the election in the third run in 1974 by defeating Republican opponent Mayor Ralph J. Perk. The astronaut Glenn now became Senator Glenn from Ohio. Glenn served as Senator till 1997.
A year later after he resigned from the post of Senator, he received an invitation from NASA which he accepted and became the oldest human to travel space.
Glenn got married on 6 April 1943 to his high school sweetheart Anna Margaret Castor and they remained as couple till Glenn breathed his last on 8 December 2016. The couple had two children. Glenn was a member of Freemason Concord Lodge #668, the masonic youth organization. He was also one of the original owners of a Holiday Inn franchise in Florida.
Glenn’s awards include Distinguished Flying Cross with three stars and eighteen clusters, Air Medal, NASA Space Flight Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, American Campaign Medal, Presidential Medal of Freedom, The Woodrow Wilson Award, Congressional Gold Medal and lots more.
Presidential Medal of Freedom
Woodrow Wilson Award
Congressional Space Medal of Honor