Your apologetic Peasant is most regretful for not mentioning
the passing of Astronaut and United States Senator John Glenn
sooner. John Herschel Glenn Jr., who was also an engineer
and a decorated U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot who flew
missions in WWII and the Korean War, died on December 8
of last year, having attained the grand age of 95.
Born in Cambridge, Ohio, to a plumbing service firm owner
and a schoolteacher, Glenn studied engineering at Muskingum
(OH) College. For a credit in his physics class, Glenn earned a
private pilot's license, a portent of things to come for the then-
engineering student. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor,
bringing the country into the Second World War, Glenn quit
college, just short of graduation in order to enlist in the U.S.
Army Air Corps. Frustrated at never getting called to duty,
Glenn enlisted as a U.S. Navy aviation cadet three months
after the attack on Pearl Harbor. During his Navy training,
Glenn accepted an offer to transfer to the U.S. Marine Corps
to become a fighter pilot with that branch.
After serving in combat Glenn became a test pilot for the U.S.
Navy, and became an astronaut when the United States started
its space program. Glenn, then a colonel in the Marines, made
his famous flight aboard Friendship 7 in which he became the
first American to orbit the Earth, the third American in space,
and the fifth person in space. He became the latest testament to
the "can do" ethos of the American nation and its people;
the confidence possessed by her people that they can accomplish
any task, achieve any goal, and overcome any challenge as a nation.
During his 24 years of service as a United States senator from
his native Ohio, Glenn returned to space as a crew member of
the spaceship Discovery as its payload specialist. He was 77
at the time and became a hero again, this time to America's
seniors for his adventurous accomplishment. The "can-do"
ethos shone again with Senator Glenn as its shining star.
Glenn also ran for president in 1984,but lost his party's (Democrat)
nomination to former Vice President Walter Mondale.
In 1983, Glenn was portrayed as one of the Mercury 7 astronauts
that orbited Earth in the movie "The Right Stuff". It was a
tremendous honor which also made Glenn more of a real-life
hero in the eyes of many, rather than a comic book-esque
After an undisclosed illness, following a remarkably long and healthy
life of adventure, accomplishment and service, John Glenn
embarked upon the Ultimate Flight. Godspeed, sir. Your legacy
shall live for all time in our country's memory. You made us all
the more proud to be Americans.