Happy Birthday John Glenn

Today, war hero, space hero, and Democratic Senator, John H. Glenn, turns 90 years-old.

John Glenn, Friendship 7 Astronaut

Glenn holds several distinctions for the life he has led. He was the first American to orbit the earth. To date, he is the oldest person to fly in space (at the age of 77.) He is also the only astronaut to have flown in both the Mercury and Shuttle Program.

Glenn was born in Cambridge, OH and grew up in New Concord, OH to become a Marine Corps pilot. During World War II, he flew the F-4U Corsair logging 59 combat missions in the South Pacific. When the Korean conflict erupted, Glenn flew 63 combat missions over two tours in jet fighters. He also flew with the famous ballplayer, Ted Williams.

After the war, Glenn attended the Navy’s Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, MD.  He was primarily responsible for testing weaponry on various aircraft.  In mid July 1957, he set a transcontinental speed record flying a Vought F8U-1 Crusader from NAS Los Alamitos, CA to Floyd Bennett Field in New York. The record flight took 3 hours, 23 minutes, and 8.4 seconds.

Although he did not yet have his college degree, NASA officials selected Glenn for the Mercury program in April 1959.  After training, managers assigned Glenn to fly the third Mercury mission, slated to orbit the earth three times.  The flight, which took place on February 20, 1962, orbited the earth three times on a mission lasting just over 4 hours in 55 minutes.

Glenn returned home as a national hero, receiving a ticker-tape parade in New York.  This garnered the attention of the Kennedy’s; he would soon become a personal friend of the President.  Influenced by a suggestion of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Glenn would resign from NASA six weeks after Kennedy’s assassination to run for senator in his home state of Ohio.

John Glenn, Shuttle crew

For his exploits in space, in 1978, Congress awarded Glenn the Congressional Space Medal Of Honor and in 1990, he became a member of the Astronaut Hall of Fame.  On October 29, 1998, Glenn achieved another record—as a member of the Discovery crew on STS-95. As a member of the Shuttle crew, Glenn became the oldest person ever fly into space.  As part of that distinction, he is the only astronaut to have flown in the Mercury and Shuttle Programs.

Once accused of being a Boy Scout when he was a member of the Mercury Program, Glenn, a Presbyterian, is married to the former Anna Margaret Castor.  The childhood sweethearts have been married since April 6, 1943.

Happy birthday, Mr. Glenn.


©2011 J. Clark
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2 Responses to Happy Birthday John Glenn

  1. Kathy Spada Basto says:

    I wanted to compliment you on your blog. It’s excellent. Thanks for doing such a wonderful story for John Glenn’s birthday. It really brought to light all his contributions to society over the years. I’ll definitely keep up with your writings. I’m a writer also.
    Take care,

    • Joe Clark says:


      Glad to meet a fellow writer, if only over the Internet. Thank you, sincerely, for the compliments. Do you blog, also? Do you fly?

      Thanks again,

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