Former Senator John Glenn, war hero and astronaut, passes away at 95

Former Senator John Glenn, war hero and astronaut, passes away at 95
(Image via Columbus Dispatch)

[Ed. – On an aviator’s death, there is one passage of verse that requires no elaboration.  R.I.P., airman — and Marine Corps shipmate — old icon of so many youths.]

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, 
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; 
Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds – 
and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of – 
wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence. 
Hovering there I’ve chased the shouting wind along 
and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air.

Up, up the long delirious burning blue 
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace, 
where never lark, or even eagle, flew; 
and, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod 
the high untrespassed sanctity of space, 
put out my hand and touched the face of God.

— John Gillespie Magee, Jr. “High Flight”

An authentic hero and genuine American icon, Glenn died this afternoon surrounded by family at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus after a remarkably healthy life spent almost from the cradle with Annie, his beloved wife of 73 years, who survives. …

Glenn, who lived with Annie for the past decade in a Downtown Columbus condo, dedicated his life to public service, devoting many of his later years to Ohio State University, which in 2005 converted the century-old Page Hall into the John Glenn Institute for Public Service and Public Policy and the School of Public Policy and Management. It is now the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. …

Raised in New Concord, where he and Annie both went to Muskingum College, Glenn aspired to be a medical doctor, but World War II sidetracked that ambition and launched a life of uncommon achievement and bravery. At age 8, he took his first ride in an open-cockpit airplane and ended up virtually living life in the sky, continuing to fly until 2011 when he put up for sale the twin-engine Beech Baron he had owned since 1981. …

Glenn flew 149 combat missions in World War II and Korea, where his wingman and eventual lifelong friend was baseball legend Ted Williams. In Korea, Glenn earned the nickname “Old Magnet Ass” due to his skill in landing his airplane under any condition, even after it was riddled with bullets and had blown tires. …

After returning from Korea, Glenn became a test pilot. He set a coast-to-coast speed record in 1957, piloting a Navy jet fighter from California to New York in 3 hours and 23 minutes. In 1959, he was selected as one of the country’s first seven astronauts…

The third American in space after suborbital missions by Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom, Glenn finally equaled [Soviet cosmonaut Yuri] Gagarin’s achievement by blasting off on Feb. 20, 1962, after weather and mechanical problems caused his mission to be postponed 10 times.

Crammed into the 7-foot-wide Friendship 7 space capsule atop a 100-foot-tall Atlas rocket loaded with 250,000 pounds of explosive fuel, Glenn launched 160-miles into space, orbiting the world three times at 17,500 miles per hour.


Commenting Policy

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse.

You may use HTML in your comments. Feel free to review the full list of allowed HTML here.