John Glenn, revered as an American hero for his aviation feats and becoming the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the Earth before serving in Congress, died Thursday at 95 at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Glenn broke the transcontinental flight speed record as a Marine Corps pilot and as an astronaut orbited the Earth in 1962, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Thirty-six years later he became the oldest man in space as a member of the seven-astronaut crew of the shuttle Discovery at 77 in 1998.
Glenn also served four terms in the U.S. Senate representing Ohio, being first elected in 1974, Biography.com noted.
"John Glenn is, and always will be, Ohio's ultimate hometown hero, and his passing today is an occasion for all of us to grieve," Ohio Gov. John Kasich said in a statement Thursday. "As we bow our heads and share our grief with his beloved wife, Annie, we must also turn to the skies, to salute his remarkable journeys and his long years of service to our state and nation.
"Though he soared deep into space and to the heights of Capitol Hill, his heart never strayed from his steadfast Ohio roots. Godspeed, John Glenn," Kasich continued.
The Dispatch reported that Glenn's body will lie in state at the Ohio Statehouse for a day, and there will be a public memorial service at Ohio State's Mershon Auditorium at a future time. He will be buried during a private ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
"With John's passing, our nation has lost an icon and Michelle and I have lost a friend," President Barack Obama said in a White House statement. "John spent his life breaking barriers, from defending our freedom as a decorated Marine Corps fighter pilot in World War II and Korea, to setting a transcontinental speed record, to becoming, at age 77, the oldest human to touch the stars.
"John always had the right stuff, inspiring generations of scientists, engineers, and astronauts who will take us to Mars and beyond – not just to visit, but to stay," Obama continued.
Glenn flew 59 missions over the South Pacific during World War II and additional missions for the Navy and Air Force during the Korean War, Biography.com said. Before joining the space program, he set the speed record, flying from Los Angeles to New York in three hours and 23 minutes in 1957.
Glenn ran for president in 1984, competing against the eventual Democratic nominee Walter Mondale in the primaries, but he left the race after the southern primaries, the Dispatch noted.
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