John Herschel Glenn, Jr. (born July 18, 1921), (Col, USMC, Ret.), is a former American pilot, engineer, astronaut and United States senator. He was a combat aviator in the U.S. Marine Corps, and is 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 who became 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. Glenn resigned from NASA on January 16, 1964, and the next day announced plans to run for a U.S. Senate seat from Ohio. But injury from a bathtub concussion caused him to withdraw from the race the following March. He retired from the Marine Corps on January 1, 1965. A member of the Democratic Party, he finally won election to the Senate in 1974 and served through January 3, 1999.
Glenn received a Scott Carpenter on October 10, 2013, Glenn became the last surviving member of the Mercury 7.
Early life, education and military service 1
- World War II 1.1
- Korean War 1.2
- Test pilot 1.3
NASA career 2
- Mercury Seven 2.1
Political career 3
- U.S. Senate 3.1
- Savings and loan scandal 3.2
- Presidential politics 3.3
- Issues 3.4
- Return to space 4
- Public affairs institute 5
- Personal life 6
- Gallery 7
- Awards and honors 8
- Physical description 9
- See also 10
- References 11
- Further reading 12
- External links 13
Early life, education and military service
After graduating from New Concord High School in 1939, he studied Engineering at Muskingum College, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree. He earned a private pilot's license for credit in a physics course in 1941.
World War II
When the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brought the United States into World War II, Glen quit college to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Corps. However, he was never called to duty, and in March 1942 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 his advanced training at the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, he was offered the chance to transfer to the U.S. Marine Corps and took it.
Upon completing his training, Glenn was assigned to Marine squadron VMJ-353, flying R4D transport planes. He transferred to VMF-155 as an F4U Corsair fighter pilot, and flew 59 combat missions in the South Pacific. He saw combat over the Marshall Islands, where he attacked anti-aircraft batteries on Maloelap Atoll. In 1945, he was assigned to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, and was promoted to captain shortly before the war's end.
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, followed by attending the amphibious warfare school.
During the Korean War, Glenn was assigned to VMF-311, flying the new F9F Panther jet interceptor. He flew his Panther in 63 combat missions, gaining the dubious nickname "magnet ass" from his alleged ability to attract enemy flak. On two occasions, he returned to his base with over 250 holes in his aircraft. For a time, he flew as wingman of Ted Williams, a future hall of fame baseball player for the Boston Red Sox. He also flew with future Major General Ralph H. Spanjer.
Glenn flew a second Korean combat tour in 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-3P 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.
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 scientific field. 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. Glenn just barely met the requirements as he was close to the age cutoff of 40 and also lacked the required science-based degree. During this time, he remained an officer in the United States Marine Corps.
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.
Glenn's 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 on January 16, 1964, and the next day announced his candidacy as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate from his home state of Ohio. On February 26, 1964, Glenn suffered a concussion from a slip and fall against a bathtub; this led him to withdraw from the race on March 30. 
Glenn then went on convalescent leave from the Marine Corps until he could make a full recovery, necessary for his retirement from the Marines. He retired on January 1, 1965, as a Colonel and entered the business world as an executive for Royal Crown Cola.
NASA psychologists had 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 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 general election, which Voinovich won.
Return to space
Glenn returned to space on the Space Shuttle on October 29, 1998, becoming, at age 77, the oldest person to go into space. He served as a Payload Specialist on Discovery's STS-95 mission. 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 states in his memoir that he had no idea NASA was willing to send him back into space when NASA announced the decision.
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".
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 Glenn holds an adjunct professorship at the Glenn School.
On April 6, 1943, Glenn married his childhood sweetheart, Anna Margaret Castor. 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.
Glenn is an honorary member of the International Academy of Astronautics; a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, Marine Corps Aviation Association, Order of Daedalians, National Space Club Board of Trustees, National Space Society Board of Governors, International Association of Holiday Inns, Ohio Democratic Party, State Democratic Executive Committee, Franklin County (Ohio) Democratic Party, and 10th District (Ohio) Democratic Action Club.
A Presbyterian Church.
In 2001, Glenn appeared as a guest star on the American television sitcom Frasier.
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 The 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.
Glenn at the Mercury Control Center on the Cape Canaveral Air Force Base
Medical debriefing of Major John H. Glenn, Jr., USMC after orbital flight of Friendship 7 on 20 February 1962 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Randolph (CVS-15). The debriefing team for Lt. Colonel Glenn (center) was led by Commander Seldon C. "Smokey" Dunn, MC, USN (FS) (RAM-qualified) (far right w/EKG in hands).
"Best regards and many thanks for all the help, 'Smokey'
John H. Glenn Jr
a good date -- 20 February 62"
Plaque near Mercury launch pad
Awards and honors
- Congressional Gold Medal
- The Woodrow Wilson Award
- National Geographic Society's Hubbard Medal, 1962
- Thomas D. White National Defense Award
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 was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1976.
In 1990, Glenn was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.
In 2000, Glenn received the U.S. Senator John Heinz Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.
In 2013, Flying magazine ranked Glenn No. 26 on their "51 Heroes of Aviation" list.
- Weight: 170 lb (76 kg)
- Height: 5 ft 10½ in (1.79 m)
- Hair: Red
- Eyes: Green
- "Ohio". Congressional Pictorial Directory, 105th Congress. 1997. p. 104.
- "John Glenn Archives, Audiovisuals Subgroup, Series 3: Certificates". Library.osu.edu. Retrieved 2013-08-30.
- Glenn's pilot's license
- The Ohio State University Biography
- 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.
- John H. Glenn, Jr. quotation
- "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.
- Moore, Charles (November 5, 1998). "Grandfather Glenn's blast from the past".
- One Giant Leap—Backward, 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.
- Pett, Saul. "John Glenn's Irony: He Fights for Balance." The Nashville Tennessean, May 10, 1964, p. 2.
- Mattson, Dr. Richard H. "Doctors Urge He Quit Race." New York Times, March 31, 1964, p. 19.
- Catchpole 2001, p. 96.
- 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.
- Altman, Lawrence K. (21 October 1998). "Glenn Unable to Perform Experiment Planned for Space Flight". New York Times. Retrieved 15 February 2014.
- Glenn, John; Taylor, Nick (November 2, 1998). John Glenn: A Memoir. Bantam. p. 231.
Brian Riley (2012). "Interview with John Glenn". Davis, California: BrianRiley.us. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
Now, here on Earth your body’s immune system changes somewhat when you get older and you become less resistant to disease and infection. The same thing happens to younger astronauts in space over a period of time. Another one is, as you get older, your body’s ability to replace protein in the muscles becomes less, and the same thing happens to younger astronauts during long-term space flight. There are several other things like that.
- 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.
- Seralago Hotel & SuitesThe history of at SeralagoHotel.com
- Glenn's memberships
- Kupperberg, Paul (2003). John Glenn. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 96.
- "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). The 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 Aviation Hall of fame: Our Enshrinees".
- John Glenn inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame
- "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.
- John Glenn's physical description
- Glenn, John H.; Taylor, Nick (2000). John Glenn: A Memoir. New York: Bantam Books.
- 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.
- Shettle Jr., M. L. (2001). United States Marine Corps Air Stations of World War II. Bowersville, Georgia: Schaertel Publishing Co.
- John Glenn at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Tara Gray. "Official NASA biography for 40th Anniversary of Mercury 7". 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 
- 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 The Ohio State University
- Official NASA short biography
- , MA-6 – as heard on KCBS RadioFriendship 7John Glenn's Flight on at the Wayback Machine (archived October 27, 2009)
- , MA-6 – complete 5-hour capsule audio recordingFriendship 7John Glenn's Flight on
- John Glenn's Flight on the Space Shuttle, STS-95
- Iven C. Kincheloe Awards
- John Glenn at the Internet Movie Database
- John Glenn at the National Aviation Hall of Fame
- Glenn at Spaceacts
- About John Glenn
- Glenn at Encyclopedia of Science
- Glenn at International Space Hall of Fame
- Astronautix biography of John Glenn
- Spacefacts biography of John Glenn
- John Glenn Archive
- John Glenn: Unpublished Photos — slideshow by Life magazine
- John Glenn: A Life of Service — PBS Video
|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