John Glenn, former Marine, astronaut and Democratic senator, has died. He was the first American ever to orbit the Earth.Glenn was 95 years old. He had been hospitalized at the Ohio State University medical center in Columbus since last week.[caption id="attachment_9158" align="aligncenter" width="819"]
John Glenn in his Marine Corps uniform. Source: Wikimedia Commons[/caption]Glenn rocketed into space on Feb. 20, 1962, with the words “Roger, zero G and I feel fine. Capsule is turning around. Oh that view is tremendous!”In the tiny Friendship 7 spacecraft he rose up from the concrete of Cape Canaveral, Florida and into space. The short, three-orbit flight made him a hero in the eyes of Americans who were fearful of the Soviet Union. His flight gave hope to the United States’ victory in the Cold War.He was also a highly-decorated Marine pilot who flew 59 combat missions in the South Pacific during World War II, then 90 combat missions in Korea using new jet fighters.He became a test pilot and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross five times. In 1958 he was one of the pilots tested for the space program, which he left in 1964 after becoming the first American to orbit the Earth.
Pilot Career Leads to Politics Career
Glenn became a senator in 1974 for the Democratic Party and represented Ohio for over two decades.In 1998 he asked NASA to allow him to go back into space, and he spent nine days aboard the shuttle Discovery. But the trip wasn’t entirely for his own benefit: NASA hooked him up to 21 different leads, including brainwaves, respiration and EKG, and had him monitored to see what would happen to an older person in space. At 77 years old, he returned back to the ground healthy and fine.[caption id="attachment_9159" align="aligncenter" width="805"]
Source: NASA[/caption]An excellent orator, John Glenn spoke often on matters of science and technology."The average person [was] better educated ... back years ago than most people in the world. And then we put more into basic research and learned the new things first," he said. "That little combination is just as true today. If we lose that edge in research and education, we won't be a leading nation in the world. It's that simple,” he said during a 2011 forum at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.Check out one of John Glenn's speeches as given by a Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant before the invasion of Marjah by Marines in 2010:https://youtu.be/zxYucS88cxA