John Herschel Glenn, Jr., a Colonel in the United States Marine Corps (retired), was born on July 18, 1921 in Cambridge, Ohio. He was the first American to orbit the Earth in the Mercury program and returned to space aboard the space shuttle after he had retired from the United States Senate.
After his Mercury flight he served in a number of positions within NASA. He was promoted to the rank of Colonel in October 1964 and retired from the Marine Corps in 1965. He was a business executive from 1965 until his election to the United States Senate in November 1974, serving the state of Ohio. He retired from the U.S. Senate in January 1999.
Glenn died on December 8, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. At the time of his death he was the last-surviving member of the original seven NASA astronauts, dubbed the, “Mercury Seven.”
- Pilot, Mercury-Atlas 6, February 20, 1962. Friendship 7, third flight of the Mercury program. Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth.
- Payload Specialist, STS-95, Discovery, October 29-November 7, 1998. Nine-day mission with the Spacehab payload during which the crew supported a variety of research payloads including deployment of the Spartan solar-observing spacecraft, the Hubble Space Telescope Orbital Systems Test Platform, and investigations on space flight and the aging process.
Total Hours in Space: 218+
Astronaut Group: 1-October 7, 1958
Degrees: BS, Engineering, Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio.Muskingum College also awarded him an honorary Doctor of Science degree in engineering. He received honorary doctoral degrees from nine colleges or universities.
Military Service & Awards: Served in World War II and Korea. He entered the Naval Aviation Cadet Program in 1942 and was graduated from this program and commissioned in the Marine Corps in 1943. After advanced training, he joined Marine Fighter Squadron 155 and spent a year flying F-4U fighters in the Marshall Islands.
During his World War II service, he flew 59 combat missions. After the war, he was a member of Marine Fighter Squadron 218 on the North China patrol and served on Guam. From 1948 to 1950 he was an instructor in advanced flight training at Corpus Christi, Texas. In Korea he flew 63 missions with Marine Fighter Squadron 311. As an exchange pilot with the Air Force Glenn flew 27 missions in the in F-86 Sabrejet. In the last nine days of fighting in Korea Glenn downed three MIG’s in combat along the Yalu River.
After Korea, Glenn attended Test Pilot School at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland. After graduation, he was project officer on a number of aircraft. He was assigned to the Fighter Design Branch of the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics (now Bureau of Naval Weapons) in Washington from 1956 to 1959, during which time he also attended the University of Maryland.
In July 1957, while project officer of the F8U Crusader, he set a transcontinental speed record from Los Angeles to New York, spanning the country in 3 hours and 23 minutes. This was the first transcontinental flight to average supersonic speed. Glenn has nearly 9,000 hours of flying time, with approximately 3,000 hours in jet aircraft.
He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on six occasions, and holds the Air Medal with 18 Clusters for his service during World War II and Korea. He also holds the Navy Unit Commendation for service in Korea, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the China Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation, the Navy’s Astronaut Wings, the Marine Corps’ Astronaut Medal, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Interred at Arlington National Cemetery: April 6, 2017
How to locate: Located just south of the memorial amphitheater close to Memorial Drive.