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John Glenn, Jr.

Astronaut / U.S. Senator

Born: 18 July 1921
Died: 8 December 2016
Birthplace: Cambridge, Ohio
Best known as: The first American to orbit Earth

Name at birth: John Glenn, Jr.

John Glenn circled Earth on the Mercury 6 space mission in 1962, becoming the first American to make a complete orbit of the planet. John Glenn grew up in the small town of New Concord in southeastern Ohio. He joined the Navy after Pearl Harbor, flying 59 combat missions in World War II and another 90 combat missions during the Korean War. In 1959 he became one of America's original seven Mercury astronauts, and was chosen as the pilot for a landmark mission: he orbited Earth three times on February 20, 1962 in the capsule Friendship 7. Alan Shepard had been the first American astronaut in space in 1961, but Glenn was the first American to actually circle the globe. (The first man into space overall was Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.) After leaving NASA, John Glenn was elected senator from Ohio in 1974, serving four full terms through 1999. He ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988. Glenn returned to orbit in late 1998, joining the crew of the space shuttle Discovery in a mission that was supposed to be a study of aging in space but became more of a nostalgic salute to a space pioneer. John Glenn was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2012.
Extra credit:

John Glenn married Anna Margaret Castor, his high school sweetheart, in April of 1943. They had two children: Carolyn Ann Glenn and John David Glenn… John Glenn attended Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio, earning a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

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