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More here (HuffPo article), here (Google News) and here (NASA memorial page).John Glenn, an astronaut, senator and old-fashioned American hero, died Thursday at the age of 95.
Glenn was the last survivor of the Mercury 7, selected in 1959 as NASA’s first group of astronauts. He became the first American to orbit the Earth on Feb. 20, 1962. It was a solo flight, not everything went as planned in space, and Glenn personified cool under pressure.
Those nerves had earlier served him well as a much-decorated veteran of two wars and a military test pilot ― and perhaps they came in handy later in his 24 years in the U.S. Senate representing his native state of Ohio.
He was born July 18, 1921, in Cambridge, Ohio, to Clara and John Herschel Glenn Sr. The family moved to nearby New Concord when he was two, where his father opened a plumbing business. Glenn later wrote, “A boy could not have had a more idyllic early childhood than I did.”
He attended Muskingum College to study engineering, but dropped out to enlist in the Navy’s aviation program after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. “I knew my responsibility,” he later said, “and I thought it was important to get going.”
In World War II, Glenn flew 59 combat missions in the South Pacific as a Marine aviator. He flew a further 90 combat missions during the Korean War. For his valor, he earned numerous awards and decorations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross six times.
His aircraft was hit by enemy fire on five different occasions, yet he escaped serious injury. A 1962 Life magazine spread noted that Glenn once returned from a mission in Korea with 375 holes in his plane. Crew members nicknamed the aircraft “the flying doily.” ...