John Herschel Glenn, Jr. (born July 18, 1921) is a retired United States Marine Corps pilot, astronaut, and United States senator. He was a combat aviator in the Marine Corps, and now the only surviving member of the Mercury Seven; the elite U.S. military test pilots selected by NASA to operate the experimental Mercury spacecraft and become the first American astronauts.
On February 20, 1962, Glenn flew the Friendship 7 mission and became the first American to orbit the Earth and the fifth person in space, after cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin and Gherman Titov and the suborbital missions of fellow Mercury Seven astronauts Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom. In 1965, Glenn retired from the military and resigned from NASA so he could be eligible to stand for election to public office. As a member of the Democratic Party he was elected to represent Ohio in the U.S. Senate from 1974 to 1999.
Glenn received a Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 1978, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. He was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1990. On October 29, 1998, while still a sitting Senator, he became the oldest person to fly in space, and the only one to fly in both the Mercury and Space Shuttle programs, when at age 77, he flew on Discovery (STS-95). With the death of Scott Carpenter in October 2013, Glenn is the last surviving member of the Mercury Seven.
- 1 Early life, education and military career
- 2 NASA
- 3 Life in politics
- 4 Public affairs institute
- 5 Personal life
- 6 Awards and honors
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
Early life, education and military career
He is a graduate of the New Concord High School. Glenn studied engineering at Muskingum College and he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1962. He received his private pilot's license for physics course credit in 1941.
World War II
When the attack on Pearl Harbor brought the United States into World War II, he left college to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Corps; however, the Army did not call him up, and in March 1942 he enlisted as a United States Navy aviation cadet. He trained at Naval Air Station Olathe, Kansas, where he made his first solo flight in a military aircraft. During advanced training in 1943 at the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, he was reassigned to the U.S. Marine Corps.
After completing his training, Glenn was assigned to Marine squadron VMJ-353, flying R4D transport planes. He eventually managed a transfer to VMF-155 as an F4U Corsair fighter pilot, and flew 59 combat missions in the South Pacific. He saw action over the Marshall Islands, where he attacked anti-aircraft batteries and dropped bombs on Maloelap Atoll. In 1945 he was assigned to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, where he was promoted to Captain shortly before the war ended.
Glenn flew patrol missions in North China with the VMF-218 squadron, until it was transferred to Guam. In 1948 he became a flight instructor at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, then attended the amphibious warfare school.
Glenn was next assigned to VMF-311, flying the new F9F Panther jet interceptor. He flew his Panther in 63 combat missions during the Korean War, gaining the dubious nickname "magnet ass" from his apparent ability to attract enemy flak. Twice he returned to base with over 250 flak holes in his aircraft. Glenn flew for a time with Ted Williams, a future hall of fame baseball player for the Boston Red Sox, as his wingman. He also flew with future Major General Ralph H. Spanjer.
Glenn flew a second Korean combat tour on an interservice exchange program with the United States Air Force, 51st Fighter Wing. He logged 27 missions in the faster F-86F Sabre, and shot down three MiG-15s near the Yalu River in the final days before the ceasefire.
Glenn returned to NAS Patuxent River, appointed to the Test Pilot School (class 12). He served as an armament officer, flying planes to high altitude and testing their cannons and machine guns. On July 16, 1957, Glenn completed the first supersonic transcontinental flight in a Vought F8U-1P Crusader.
The flight from NAS Los Alamitos, California, to Floyd Bennett Field, New York, took 3 hours, 23 minutes and 8.3 seconds. As he passed over his hometown, a child in the neighborhood reportedly ran to the Glenn house shouting "Johnny dropped a bomb! Johnny dropped a bomb! Johnny dropped a bomb!" as the sonic boom shook the town. Project Bullet, the name of the mission, included both the first transcontinental flight to average supersonic speed (despite three in-flight refuelings during which speeds dropped below 300 mph), and the first continuous transcontinental panoramic photograph of the United States. For this mission Glenn received his fifth Distinguished Flying Cross.
|John H. Glenn, Jr.|
July 18, 1921 |
Cambridge, Ohio, U.S.
|Other names||John Herschel Glenn, Jr.|
|Other occupation||Test pilot|
|Alma mater||Muskingum University, B.S. 1962|
|Time in space||9d 02h 39 m|
|Selection||1959 NASA Group|
|Missions||Mercury-Atlas 6, STS-95|
|Retirement||November 7, 1998|
In 1958, the newly formed NASA began a recruiting program for astronauts. Requirements were that each had to be a military test pilot between the ages of 25 and 40 with sufficient flight hours, no more than 5'11" in height, and possess a degree in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subject. 508 pilots were subjected to rigorous mental and physical tests, and finally the selection was narrowed down to seven astronauts (Glenn, Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, Scott Carpenter, Wally Schirra, Gordon Cooper, and Deke Slayton), who were introduced to the public at a NASA press conference in April 1959. John Glenn just barely met the requirements as he was close to the age cutoff of 40 and also lacked the required STEM degree. During this time, he remained an officer in the United States Marine Corps.
John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, aboard Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962, on the Mercury-Atlas 6 mission, circling the globe three times during a flight lasting 4 hours, 55 minutes, and 23 seconds. This made Glenn the third American in space and the fifth human being in space.
Perth, Western Australia became known worldwide as the "City of Light" when residents turned on their house, car and streetlights as Glenn passed overhead. (The city repeated the act when Glenn rode the Space Shuttle in 1998). During the first mission there was concern over a ground indication that his heat shield had come loose, which could allow it to fail during re-entry through the atmosphere, causing his capsule to burn up. Flight controllers had Glenn modify his re-entry procedure by keeping his retrorocket pack on over the shield in an attempt to keep it in place. He made his splashdown safely, and afterwards it was determined that the indicator was faulty.
As the first American in orbit, Glenn became a national hero, met President Kennedy, and received a ticker-tape parade in New York City, reminiscent of that given for Charles Lindbergh and other great dignitaries.
His fame and political attributes were noted by the Kennedys, and he became a personal friend of the Kennedy family. On February 23, 1962, President Kennedy escorted him in a parade to Hangar S at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where he awarded Glenn with the NASA service medal.
In July 1962 Glenn testified before the House Space Committee in favor of excluding women from the NASA astronaut program. Although NASA had no official policy prohibiting women, in practice the requirement that astronauts had to be military test pilots excluded them entirely. The impact of the testimony of so prestigious a hero is debatable, but no female astronaut flew on a NASA mission until Sally Ride in 1983 (in the meantime, the Soviets had flown two women on space missions), and none piloted a mission until Eileen Collins in 1995, more than 30 years after the hearings. In the late 1970s, Glenn is reported to have supported Shuttle Mission Specialist Astronaut Judith Resnik in her career.
Glenn resigned from NASA six weeks after the assassination of John F. Kennedy to run for office in his home state of Ohio. In 1965 he retired as a Colonel from the Marine Corps and entered the business world as an executive for Royal Crown Cola. In 1974, he was elected to the US Senate. Some accounts of Glenn's years at NASA suggest that Glenn was prevented from flying in Gemini or Apollo missions, either by President Kennedy, or by NASA management, on the grounds that the subsequent loss of a national hero of such stature would seriously harm or even end the manned space program (for similar reason, the Soviet program grounded Yuri Gagarin from further flights). Yet Glenn resigned from the NASA Astronaut Corps on January 30, 1964, well before even the first Gemini crew was assigned.
In 1990, Glenn was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame.
Glenn served as a US Senator for 24 years, making an abortive attempt to capture the Democratic Party nomination in the 1984 presidential election. Glenn lifted off for a second space flight on October 29, 1998, on Space Shuttle Discovery's STS-95, in order to study the effects of space flight on the elderly. At age 77, Glenn became the oldest person to go into space. Glenn states in his memoir that he had no idea that NASA was willing to send him back into space when NASA announced the decision. According to the New York Times, Glenn "won his seat on the shuttle flight by lobbying NASA for two years to fly as a human guinea pig for geriatric studies", which were named as the main reasons for his participation in the mission.
Glenn's participation in the nine-day mission was criticized by some in the space community as a political favor granted to Glenn by President Clinton. Others noted that Glenn's flight offered valuable research on weightlessness and other aspects of space flight on the same person at two points in life 36 years apart—by far the longest interval between space flights by the same person—providing information on the effects of spaceflight and weightlessness on the elderly, with an ideal control. Shortly before the flight, researchers learned that Glenn had to be disqualified from one of the flight's two main priority human experiments (about the effects of melatonin) because he did not meet one of study's medical conditions; he still participated in two other experiments about sleep monitoring and protein use. Upon the safe return of the STS-95 crew, Glenn (and his crewmates) received another ticker-tape parade, making him the tenth, and latest, person to have received multiple ticker-tape parades in a lifetime (as opposed to that of a sports team). Just prior to the flight, on October 15, 1998, and for several months after, the main causeway to the Johnson Space Center, NASA Road 1, was temporarily renamed "John Glenn Parkway". Glenn was one of several NASA astronauts who experienced both a splashdown and touchdown on dry land.
Life in politics
NASA psychologists determined during Glenn's training that he was the astronaut best suited for public life. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy suggested to Glenn and his wife in December 1962 that he should run against incumbent United States Senator Stephen M. Young of Ohio in the 1964 Democratic primary election. In 1964 Glenn announced that he was resigning from the space program to run against Young, but withdrew when he hit his head on a bathtub. Glenn sustained a concussion and injured his inner ear, and recovery left him unable to campaign. Glenn remained close to the Kennedy family and was with Robert Kennedy when he was assassinated in 1968.
In 1970, Glenn was narrowly defeated in the Democratic primary for nomination for the Senate by fellow Democrat Howard Metzenbaum, by a 51% to 49% margin. Metzenbaum lost the general election race to Robert Taft, Jr. In 1974, Glenn resisted Ohio governor John J. Gilligan and the Ohio Democratic party's demand that he run for Lieutenant Governor. Instead, he challenged Metzenbaum again, whom Gilligan had appointed to the Senate to replace William B. Saxbe, who had resigned to become Attorney General of the United States.
In the primary race, Metzenbaum contrasted his strong business background with Glenn's military and astronaut credentials, saying his opponent had "never worked for a living". Glenn's reply came to be known as the "Gold Star Mothers" speech. He told Metzenbaum to go to a veterans' hospital and "look those men with mangled bodies in the eyes and tell them they didn't hold a job. You go with me to any Gold Star mother and you look her in the eye and tell her that her son did not hold a job." Many felt the "Gold Star Mothers" speech won the primary for Glenn. Glenn won the primary by 54 to 46%. After defeating Metzenbaum, Glenn defeated Ralph Perk, the Republican mayor of Cleveland, in the general election, beginning a Senate career that would continue until 1999. In 1980, Glenn won re-election to the seat, defeating Republican challenger Jim Betts, by over 40 percentage points.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Glenn and Metzenbaum had strained relations. There was a thaw in 1983, when Metzenbaum endorsed Glenn for president, and again in 1988, when Metzenbaum was opposed for re-election by Cleveland mayor George Voinovich. Voinovich accused Metzenbaum of being soft on child pornography. Voinovich's charges were criticized by many, including Glenn, who now came to Metzenbaum's aid, recording a statement for television refuting Voinovich's charges. Metzenbaum won the election by 57% to 41%.
Savings and loan scandal
Glenn was one of the five U.S. senators caught up in the Lincoln Savings and Keating Five Scandal after accepting a $200,000 contribution from Charles Keating. Glenn and Republican Senator John McCain were the only Senators exonerated. The Senate Commission found that Glenn had exercised "poor judgment". The association of his name with the scandal gave Republicans hope that he would be vulnerable in the 1992 campaign. Instead, Glenn defeated Lieutenant Governor Mike DeWine to keep his seat, though his percentage was reduced to a career low of 51%. DeWine used the memorable campaign slogan, "What on earth has John Glenn done?" This 1992 re-election victory was the last time a Democrat won a statewide race in Ohio until 2006; DeWine later won Metzenbaum's seat upon his retirement.
In 1976, Glenn was a candidate for the Democratic vice presidential nomination. However, Glenn's keynote address at the Democratic National Convention failed to impress the delegates and the nomination went to veteran politician Walter Mondale. Glenn also ran for the 1984 Democratic presidential nomination. A November 1983 New York Times/CBS News poll found him second, supported by 41% of those polled, to Mondale's 49%.
Glenn and his staff worried about the 1983 release of The Right Stuff, a film about the original seven Mercury astronauts based on the best-selling Tom Wolfe book of the same name. The book had depicted Glenn as a "zealous moralizer", and he did not attend the film's Washington premiere on October 16, 1983. Reviewers saw Ed Harris' portrayal of Glenn as heroic, however, and his staff immediately began to emphasize the film to the press. Aide Greg Schneiders suggested an unusual strategy, similar to Glenn's personal campaign and voting style, in which he would avoid appealing to narrow special interest groups and instead seek to win support from ordinary Democratic primary voters, the "constituency of the whole". Mondale defeated Glenn for the nomination however, and he was left with $3 million in campaign debt for over 20 years before he was granted a reprieve by the Federal Election Commission. He was a potential vice presidential running mate in 1984, 1988, and 1992.
During his time in the Senate, he was chief author of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act of 1978, served as chairman of the Committee on Governmental Affairs from 1987 until 1995, sat on the Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees and the Special Committee on Aging. Once Republicans regained control of the Senate, Glenn also served as the ranking minority member on a special Senate investigative committee chaired by Tennessee senator Fred Dalton Thompson that looked into illegal foreign donations by China to U.S. political campaigns for the 1996 election. There was considerable acrimony between the two very high-profile senators during the life of this committee, which reached a level of public disagreement between the five leaders of a congressional committee seldom seen in recent years, amid allegations that Glenn suppressed these issues prior to his subsequent space shuttle flight which had to be approved by President Clinton. In 1998, Glenn declined to run for re-election. Mary O. Boyle was the Democratic party nominee. She faced Republican nominee and sitting governor George Voinovich in the general election, which Voinovich won.
Public affairs institute
Glenn helped found the John Glenn Institute for Public Service and Public Policy at the Ohio State University in 1998 to encourage public service. On July 22, 2006, the institute merged with OSU's School of Public Policy and Management to become the John Glenn School of Public Affairs. Today he holds an adjunct professorship at both the Glenn School and OSU's Department of Political Science.
On April 6, 1943, Glenn married his childhood sweetheart, Anna Margaret Castor. They had met in New Concord and played together in the school band. They are the parents of two children. Both Glenn and his wife attended Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio. He also was a member of the Stag Club Fraternity at Muskingum College.
On August 4, 2006, Glenn and his wife were injured in an automobile accident on I-270 near Columbus, Ohio, and were hospitalized for two days. Glenn suffered a "very sore chest" and a fractured sternum. Annie Glenn was treated for minor injuries. Glenn was cited for failure to yield the right-of-way.
On September 5, 2009, John and Annie Glenn dotted the "i" during Ohio State University's Script Ohio marching band performance, at the Ohio State-Navy football game halftime show. Bob Hope, Woody Hayes, Buster Douglas, E. Gordon Gee, Novice Fawcett, Robert Ries and Jack Nicklaus are the only other non-band members to have received this honor.
On February 20, 2012, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Friendship 7 flight, Glenn was surprised with the opportunity to speak with the orbiting crew of the International Space Station while Glenn was on-stage with NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden at Ohio State, where the public affairs school is named for him.
On April 19, 2012, Glenn participated in the ceremonial transfer of the retired Space Shuttle Discovery from NASA to the Smithsonian Institution for permanent display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Speaking at the event, Glenn criticized the "unfortunate" decision to end the Space Shuttle program, expressing his opinion that grounding the shuttles delayed research.
Awards and honors
The NASA John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in Cleveland, Ohio, is named after him. Also, Senator John Glenn Highway runs along a stretch of I-480 in Ohio across from the NASA Glenn Research Center. Colonel Glenn Highway, which runs by Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and Wright State University near Dayton, Ohio, John Glenn High School in his hometown of New Concord, Ohio, and Col. John Glenn Elementary in Seven Hills, Ohio, are named for him as well. High Schools in Westland and Bay City, Michigan; Walkerton, Indiana; San Angelo, Texas; Elwood, Long Island, New York; and Norwalk, California were also named after him.
The USNS John Glenn (T-MLP-2), a mobile landing platform that is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy in 2014 is named for him. It was christened February 1, 2014, in San Diego at General Dynamics’ National Steel and Shipbuilding Company.
In 1961, Glenn received an honorary LL.D from Muskingum University, the college he had attended before joining the military in World War II. This was followed by earning his bachelor of science degree from Muskingum in 1962.
Glenn has received the following awards and decorations:
|Naval Aviator insignia|
|Naval Pilot Astronaut Badge|
|1st row||Distinguished Flying Cross with two gold award stars and two oak leaf clusters||Air Medal with three silver award stars and two oak leaf clusters||Presidential Unit Citation||Navy Unit Commendation|
|2nd row||Presidential Medal of Freedom||China Service Medal||American Campaign Medal||Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with service star|
|3rd row||World War II Victory Medal||Navy Occupation Service Medal||National Defense Service Medal||Korean Service Medal with two service stars|
|4th row||Congressional Space Medal of Honor||NASA Distinguished Service Medal||United Nations Korea Medal||Presidential Unit Citation (Korea)|
- "Ohio". Congressional Pictorial Directory, 105th Congress. 1997. p. 104.
- "John Glenn Archives, Audiovisuals Subgroup, Series 3: Certificates". Library.osu.edu. Retrieved 2013-08-30.
- Ohio State University Biography[dead link]
- Shettle USMC Air Station of WWII, p. 167
- Mersky USMC Aviation, p. 183
- "Ralph H. Spanjer, 78". Chicago Tribune. February 12, 1999.
- Glenn, John; Taylor, Nick (November 2, 1998). John Glenn: A Memoir. Bantam. p. 169. ISBN 978-0-553-11074-6.
- "Glenn Orbits the Earth". NASA. Retrieved June 10, 2008.
- (1970) Perth – a city of light Perth, W.A. Brian Williams Productions for the Government of WA, 1970 (Video recording) The social and recreational life of Perth. Begins with a 'mock-up' of the lights of Perth as seen by astronaut John Glenn in February 1962
- Gregory, Jenny. "Biography - Sir Henry Rudolph (Harry) Howard - Australian Dictionary of Biography". Adbonline.anu.edu.au. Retrieved 2013-08-30.
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation (February 15, 2008). "Moment in Time – Episode 1". Retrieved July 14, 2008.
- Moore, Charles (November 5, 1998). "Grandfather Glenn's blast from the past". The Daily Telegraph (UK) (London). Retrieved July 14, 2008.
- One Giant Leap—Backward[dead link], The Globe and Mail, October 12, 2002
- Kevles, Bettyann Holtzmann (2003). Almost Heaven: the Story of Women in Space. New York: Basic Books. p. 98. ISBN 0-7382-0209-6.
- Glenn, John; Taylor, Nick (November 2, 1998). John Glenn: A Memoir. Bantam. p. 231. ISBN 978-0-553-11074-6.
- Altman, Lawrence K. (21 October 1998). "Glenn Unable to Perform Experiment Planned for Space Flight". New York Times. Retrieved 15 February 2014.
- List of ticker-tape parades in New York City
- "John Glenn Parkway". Blog.chron.com. 2012-02-20. Retrieved 2013-08-30.
- "John Glenn: Space tourist cheapening Alpha". CNN. May 3, 2001. Retrieved May 6, 2010.[dead link]
- Raines, Howell (November 13, 1983). "John Glenn: The Hero as Candidate". The New York Times. p. 40. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
- Clifford Krauss Krauss, Clifford (October 15, 1992). "In Big Re-election Fight, Glenn Tests Hero Image". New York Times. Retrieved July 21, 2008.
- Luce, Edward (2008-05-09). "Well of donors dries up for Clinton". Ft.com. Retrieved 2013-08-30.
- For Clinton, Millions in Debt and Few Options
- "Fred Thompson's Big Flop". Portfolio.com. 2007-10-15. Retrieved 2013-08-30.
- The history of Seralago Hotel & Suites at SeralagoHotel.com
- Landwirth, Henri. Gift of Life.
- Kupperberg, Paul (2003). John Glenn. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 96. ISBN 9780823944606. Retrieved July 24, 2009.
- "The John & Annie Glenn Historic Site." John & Annie Glenn Museum Foundation. Retrieved November 18, 2011.
- "John Glenn appears on Emmy-award winning 'Frasier'" (press release) (March 5, 2001). Ohio State University.
- "John Glenn and wife released from hospital". Wkyc.com. 2006-08-06. Retrieved 2013-08-30.
- "The "i"-Dot Tradition". Retrieved September 1, 2009.
- Kantele Franko (February 20, 2012). "Armstrong honors Glenn 50 years after his orbit – NASA also surprised Glenn with space station chat". MSNBC. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
- Brett Zongker (April 20, 2012). "Shuttle Discovery lands at Smithsonian". philly.com. Retrieved April 21, 2012.
- Navy christens USNS John Glenn, Pueblo Chieftain, February 1, 2014, retrieved February 1, 2014.
- Associated Press, Oct. 4, 1983. (PDF)
- "National Winners | public service awards". Jefferson Awards.org. Retrieved 2013-08-30.
- "Recipients of the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service" Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Retrieved November 18, 2011
- "Honorary Degrees." Office of the President, Williams College.
- Tyrel Linkhorn. "Honorary doctorate degree for John Glenn" (May 24, 2010). Lima News.
- Glenn, John H.; Taylor, Nick (2000). John Glenn: A Memoir. New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-58157-0.
- Fenno, Richard F., Jr. The Presidential Odyssey of John Glenn. CQ Press, 1990. 302 pp.
- Mersky, Peter B. (1983). U.S. Marine Corps Aviation — 1912 to the present. Annapolis, Maryland: The Nautical and Aviation Publishing Company of America. ISBN 0-933852-39-8.
- Shettle Jr., M. L. (2001). United States Marine Corps Air Stations of World War II. Bowersville, Georgia: Schaertel Publishing Co. ISBN 0-9643388-2-3.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to John Glenn.|
- John Glenn at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Tara Gray. "John H. Glenn, Jr.". 40th Anniversary of NASA. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
- "COLONEL JOHN H. GLENN, JR., USMC(RETIRED)". Who's Who in Marine Corps History. Retrieved December 18, 2006.
- NASA — John Glenn: A Journey
- The short film John Glenn Story (1963) is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
- John Glenn Honored as an Ambassador of Exploration
- John & Annie Glenn Historic Site and Home
- John Glenn Information at the web site of the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at Ohio State University
- John Glenn's Official NASA Biography
- John Glenn's Flight on Friendship 7, MA-6 – as heard on KCBS Radio
- John Glenn's Flight on Friendship 7, MA-6 – complete 5-hour capsule audio recording
- John Glenn's Flight on the Space Shuttle, STS-95
- Spacefacts biography of John Glenn
- John Glenn Archive
- John Glenn: Unpublished Photos — slideshow by Life magazine
|Party political offices|
|Democratic nominee for Senator from Ohio
1974, 1980, 1986, 1992
|United States Senate|
|United States Senator (Class 3) from Ohio
Served alongside: Robert Taft, Howard Metzenbaum, Mike DeWine
|Chairperson of Senate Governmental Affairs Committee