DoD Remembers Space Pioneer, Marine Corps Pilot John Glenn

John Glenn (Credit: NASA)

John Glenn (Credit: NASA)

By Yolanda R. Arrington
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth, died Dec. 8. The legendary astronaut, U.S. senator and Marine Corps pilot was 95.

Glenn had been hospitalized last month at the James Cancer Hospital at the Ohio State University for an undisclosed illness.

Glenn was a decorated fighter pilot in World War II and Korea. He was one of the Mercury Seven military test pilots chosen to become NASA’s first astronauts.

John Glenn's official portrait as one of NASA's original seven Mercury astronauts. (Credit: NASA)

John Glenn’s official portrait as one of NASA’s original seven Mercury astronauts. (Credit: NASA)

The space pioneer orbited the Earth three times, including his flight on Friendship 7 on Feb. 20, 1962. That mission quickly made him a national hero when he was forced to fly the capsule manually after the automatic system failed.

John Glenn climbs into his Friendship 7 capsule for his historic flight on Feb. 20, 1962. (Credit: NASA)

John Glenn climbs into his Friendship 7 capsule for his historic flight on Feb. 20, 1962. (Credit: NASA)

“I went to manual control and continued in that mode during the second and third orbits, and during re-entry,” Glenn recalled later, according to NASA.

“The malfunction just forced me to prove very rapidly what had been planned over a longer period of time,” Glenn added.

Glenn continued to serve his country as a four-term U.S. senator from Ohio. He launched a failed attempt for the presidency in 1984.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden called Glenn a role model.

“Glenn’s extraordinary courage, intellect, patriotism and humanity were the hallmarks of a life of greatness,” Bolden said in a statement. “His missions have helped make possible everything our space program has since achieved and the human missions to an asteroid and Mars that we are striving toward now.”

Other tributes to Glenn came flooding in on social media following the news of his passing, including messages from President Barack Obama and NASA.

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President Barack Obama presents former United States Marine Corps pilot, astronaut, and United States Senator John Glenn with a Medal of Freedom, Tuesday, May 29, 2012, during a ceremony at the White House in Washington. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

President Barack Obama presents former United States Marine Corps pilot, astronaut, and United States Senator John Glenn with a Medal of Freedom, Tuesday, May 29, 2012, during a ceremony at the White House in Washington. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Glenn would become the oldest person to go into space when, at 77, he returned to space flight in 1998 on Discovery’s STS-95 mission to study the impact of orbit on aging.

Glenn is survived by his wife of 73 years, Annie, two children and two grandchildren.

Related Link: Carter Offers Condolences on Death of Former Astronaut, Senator John Glenn

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