Godspeed, John Glenn [VIDEO]

Godspeed, John Glenn [VIDEO]

Godspeed, John Glenn [VIDEO]

It’s never easy to see American heroes age and then pass away. But here we are again. John Glenn – United States Marine, Mercury astronaut, Senator from Ohio – has died at the age of 95.

John Glenn, 1921-2016 (official NASA photo)
The Marines are honoring Colonel John Glenn, who flew combat missions in the South Pacific during World War II, and served two combat tours during the Korean War. He became a test pilot after the Korean War.

It was his service in the Marine Corps that led to his selection as one of the famed “Mercury 7” – the United States’ first seven astronauts. Glenn described his progression from pilot to Marine to astronaut in a Marine Corps recruiting video.

NASA marked Glenn’s passing today as well.

Glenn drew the mission that enabled him to become the first American to orbit the earth. Here is a British newsreel that reports on that historic flight:

Today, John Glenn’s space suit and helmet from that first orbital flight resides at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum.

Glenn’s space suit, on display at the Smithsonian (photo taken in April 2014 by the author)

Glenn went on to be elected to the United States Senate as a Democrat from his home state of Ohio. His political legacy is definitely more mixed than his service in the Marine Corps or as an astronaut. He was a potential candidate for vice-president in 1976, but was passed over. He ran for president in 1984, but was defeated in the primary by Walter Mondale. He was implicated and cleared in the Keating Five scandal (along with Senator John McCain) in 1989. He served in the Senate for another 10 years, and at the end of his term, ended up returning to space as the oldest astronaut ever (at age 77) in 1998 aboard Space Shuttle Discovery.

Glenn was the last surviving Mercury astronaut, and his passing marks the end of an era in spaceflight and in history. He was a World War II veteran, and every day more of those brave men are leaving us. He lived a collectively amazing life, dedicated to serving his country. Godspeed, John Glenn.

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