John Glenn

(1921 - )

Current Portrait
Early Years and Education
Fighter Pilot
U. S. Senator

Glenn's Early Years and Education

Senator John Herschel Glenn, Jr., Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps Retired, was born July 18, 1921, in Cambridge, Ohio. Before starting school, he moved with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John H. Glenn, to New Concord, Ohio. After graduating from New Concord High School (which is now John Glenn High School), he enrolled in New Concord's Muskingum College. Glenn received his B.S. degree in engineering from Muskingum College which also awarded him an honorary doctor of science degree in engineering. He has received honorary doctor of engineering degrees from Nihon University in Tokyo, Japan, Wagner, and New Hampshire Colleges.

Glenn's War Years

In 1943 he enlisted in the Marine Corps and married Anna Margaret Castor,wedding daughter of Dr. and Mrs. H. W. Castor of New Concord (Their wedding photo is shown to the right). He had already learned to fly at the nearby New Philadelphia airfield when he enlisted in the Naval Aviation Cadet Program in March, 1942. After training, Glenn joined Marine Fighter Squadron 155 and spent a year flying F4Us in the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific. During his World War II service, he flew 59 combat missions. After the war, he was a member of Fighter Squadron 218 on North China patrol and had duty in Guam.

From June 1948 to December 1950 Glenn was an instructor in advanced flight training at Corpus Christi, Texas. He then attended Amphibious Warfare Training at Quantico, Virginia. Glenn requested combat duty in the Korean conflict where he flew 63 missions with Marine Fighter Squadrons 311, and 27 while an exchange pilot with the Air Force in F-86 Sabrejets. In combat during the last nine days of fighting in Korea, Glenn downed three MIG's along the Yalu River. For his service in 149 missions in two wars, he received many honors, including the Distinguished Flying Cross (six occasions) and the Air Medal with eighteen clusters.

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) as a test pilot on Navy and Marine Corps jet fighters in Washington from November 1956 to April 1959, during which time he also attended the University of Maryland. In July 1957, while project officer of the F8U, 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 been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on five occasions, and holds the Air Medal with 18 Clusters for his service during World War II and Korea. Glenn 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' new insignia (an Astronaut Medal), and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.

Glenn is 5 feet 10-1/2 inches tall, weighs 168 pounds and has green eyes and red hair and he and his wife of 56 years have two children: John David, born December 13, 1945; and Carolyn Ann, born March 19, 1947 and now have two grandchildren.

Project Mercury

The Manned Space Program started in 1958 and in 1959 John Glenn was selected to be one of the first seven astronauts in project Mercury of the U.S. space program. Three years later, on February 20, 1962, he made history as the first American to orbit the earth, completing three orbits in a five-hour flight, for which he received the Space Congressional Medal of Honor.

The Mercury astronauts were introduced to the American public in April 1959. The seven criteria for selection were as follows: 1. less than 40 years old; 2. less than 5 foot 11 inches tall: 3. excellent physical condition; 4. bachelor's degree in engineering or equivalent; 5. test-pilot school graduate; 6. minimum of 1,500 hours flying time; 7. qualified jet pilot. However, the process of choosing the first astronauts was elaborate and rigorous.

all 7
insignia Once selected, the astronauts began their training program at Langley. This included a "little of everything" ranging from a graduate-level course in introductory space science to simulator training and scuba-diving. Training continued until the Langley Space Task Group was transferred to Houston, Texas. After the two years of training the astronauts(official NASA portait) were ready for space flight, but were delayed while equipment was developed.

Glenn made America's first orbital flight on February 20, 1962, in Friendship 7 piloting the Mercury-Atlas 6 "Friendship 7" spacecraft on the first manned orbital mission of the United States (SEE NASA SITE). Launched from Cape Canaveral (re-named Cape Kennedy), Florida, he completed a successful three--orbit mission around the earth, reaching a maximum altitude (apogee) of approximately 162 statute miles and an orbital velocity of approximately 17,500 miles per hour.capsule Glenn's "Friendship 7" Mercury spacecraft landed in an area in the Atlantic approximately 800 miles southeast of Cape Kennedy in the vicinity of Grand Turk Island. He landed 41 miles west and 19 miles north of the planned impact point. The time of the flight from launch to impact was 4 hours, 55 minutes, and 23 seconds. Prior to his flight, Glenn served as backup pilot for Astronauts Shepard and Grissom. Although he wanted to remain an active astronaut, President John Kennedy believed it was not in the country's interest to endanger a national hero and he was pulled from flight status. Glenn was considered too valuable to a country engulfed in the cold war, so he was not allowed to risk further space flights.

home To honor and recognize his contributions, New Concord has memorialized Glenn by renaming his high school after him. Highway 83 north of Main Street where his boyhood home (shown to the right) is currently located (it was originally located on Main St. - Rt 40) is now called Friendship Blvd. Muskingum College renamed its athletic building, John Glenn Gynasium. And, the section of interstate 40 linking Cambridge to New Concord has been designated John H. Glenn Memorial Highway. Below is a one third scale model of the Friendship 7 Mercury Capsule which is on permanent display in the College's science facility (Boyd Science Center). Currently, the town and college are planning a museum/educational center to honor John and Annie. John's boyhood HOME will be moved back to Main St. to be part of the museum complex. In May 1999, Glenn deeded this house to Muskingum College which will incorporate it into the John and Annie Glenn Historical Site and Exploration Center.

Visit other sites that have been constructed in acknowledgement of his achievements.

Glenn's Political Contributions

Glenn resigned from the Manned Spacecraft Center on January 16, 1964. He was promoted to the rank of Colonel in October 1964 and after 23 years of distinguished service to his country, retired from the Marine Corps on January 1, 1965.

He took an active part in politics and early environmental protection efforts in Ohio while pursuing a career as an executive with Royal Crown International from 1965 until his election to the United States Senate. He won his Senate seat in 1974, carrying all 88 counties of Ohio, and was re-elected in 1980 with the largest margin in Ohio history. Ohioans returned him to the Senate for a third term in 1986, again with a substantial majority. In 1992, John Glenn again made history by being the first popularly elected Senator from Ohio to win four consecutive terms (1962 NASA portrait).

As Senator in the 105th Congress, he is the Ranking Member of both the Governmental Affairs Committee and the Subcommittee on Airland Forces in the Senate Armed Services Committee. He also serves on the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Special Committee on Aging. He is considered one of the Senate's leading experts on technical and scientific matters, and is widely respected for his work to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

In the Spring of 1997, Glenn returned to his Alma Mater and from the pulpit of Muskingum College's chapel announced to the country that he would retire from the senate at the end of his current term. He emphasized that his public service was not ending and that he would seeks ways to remain active. He expressed his interest in returning to space flight and offered himself for a mission that might serve to investigate the issue of aging.

On January 16, 1998, NASA announced that he was selected to participate as a payload specialist on next October's shuttle mission. Glenn succesfully returned to space on October 29th.

Muskingum College and the village of New Concord held several EVENTS during the 1998/99 academic year to celibrate Glenn's achievements. Here are some PHOTOS of these events.

Annie Castor Glenn was recently honored by being one of four individuals inducted into the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges' Hall of Excellence on Thursday, March 25, 1999. On Sunday, May 9, 1999, she gave the commencement address to Muskingum's seniors.

Both Glenns are active members of Muskingum's board of trustees and John was named as distinguished alumni professor in 1998. Most recently, he delivered the Campbell Public Service Lecture on April 12, 2000 in honor of the college's presidential inauguration of Dr. Anne Steele.

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