Former US senator and Astronaut John Glenn, who was the first American to orbit the Earth, died Thursday at the age of 95, the Ohio State University announced in a press release.
Glenn, who had heart valve replacement surgery in 2014, had been hospitalized “more than a week ago,” according to Ohio State University spokesman Hank Wilson. He was at The James Cancer Hospital, which is located at Ohio State University. His illness was not disclosed.
John Herschel Glenn Jr. made history in 1962 when he completed a three-orbit flight in a cramped space capsule dubbed Friendship 7. He later served for nearly a quarter-century as a US senator.
Born in the small eastern Ohio town of Cambridge on July 18, 1921, Glenn recounted an idyllic childhood where “patriotism filled the air.”
“Love of country was a given. Defense of its ideals was an obligation,” Glenn wrote in his memoir. “The opportunity to join in its quests and explorations was a challenge not only to fulfill a sacred duty but to join a joyous adventure.”
As he grew older, Glenn never gave up his dream of flying in space again, or, as he called it back in the Mercury days, being “a willing guinea pig.” In 1998, he returned to space at age 77, becoming the oldest person to ever do so.
A year after retiring from the Senate, Glenn accepted an invitation from NASA to rejoin the space program as a member of Space Shuttle Discovery on a nine-day mission to study the aging process, which mirrors what astronauts experience during long durations in space.
On October 29, 1998 Glenn became the oldest human ever to venture into space, and his flight proved once again that he was a man who embraced a challenge.
For most men and women, fame is fleeting and greatness is often short-lived. For John Herschel Glenn, Jr. it lasted a lifetime.
Glenn is survived by his wife of 73 (April 6, 1943) years, Annie, his two children, John David and Carolyn Ann (Lyn), and two grandchildren.
R.I.P., John. You will always be remembered.