John Glenn Fast Facts

Astronaut John H. Glenn, Jr., in his Mercury flight suit.

Credit: NASA
Former astronaut John Glenn dead at 95
03:10 - Source: CNN
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Here is a look at the life of John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth and a former US senator.


Birth date: July 18, 1921

Death date: December 8, 2016

Birth place: Cambridge, Ohio

Birth name: John Herschel Glenn Jr.

Father: John Glenn Sr., a plumber

Mother: Clara (Sproat) Glenn, a teacher

Marriage: Anna “Annie” Margaret (Castor) Glenn (April 6, 1943-December 8, 2016, his death)

Children: Carolyn Ann and John David

Education: Muskingum College, 1939-1942

Military service: US Marine Corps, 1943-1965, Colonel

Religion: Presbyterian

Other Facts

Flew a total of 149 missions during World War II and the Korean War and received multiple medals and decorations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross on six occasions.

He was the last surviving astronaut of the original seven from Project Mercury.


March 1942 - Enlists in the Naval Aviation Cadet Program and upon completing flight training in 1943, becomes a pilot for the US Marines.

1944 - Flies 59 combat missions during his World War II service.

1953 - Flies a total of 90 combat missions in Korea: 63 missions with Marine Fighter Squadron 311 and 27 missions with the Fifth US Air Force.

1954-1956 - After the Korean conflict, Glenn attends test pilot school at the Naval Air Test Center in Maryland.

1957 - Sets the speed record flying from Los Angeles to New York in three hours and 23 minutes.

April 1959 - NASA selects Glenn as one of seven astronauts for Project Mercury.

1961 - Glenn, the oldest member of the group, serves as backup pilot when fellow astronauts Alan B. Shepard Jr. and Virgil I. Grissom each make suborbital flights.

February 20, 1962 - An Atlas rocket launches Glenn’s space capsule, the Friendship 7. Glenn becomes the first American to orbit Earth, circling the globe three times in four hours and 56 minutes.

January 1964 - Resigns from NASA’s astronaut program.

1964 - Enters the Ohio Democratic primary to challenge the incumbent Senator Stephen M. Young, but withdraws after being injured in a fall.

January 1965 - Retires from active service in the US Marine Corps to enter the business world.

1965-1970 - Serves as vice president and then president of Royal Crown Cola.

1970 - Glenn enters the Democratic primary for the US Senate but loses.

November 1974-1999 - Elected to the US Senate, serving four consecutive terms.

1978 - Chief author of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Act of 1978, prohibiting the sale of nuclear equipment to nations that currently have none.

1983-1984 - Runs unsuccessfully for the 1984 Democratic presidential nomination. He drops out of the race after failing to win any early primaries or caucuses.

1987-1995 - Glenn serves as chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, and sits on the Foreign Relations, Armed Services Committees and the Special Committee on Aging.

February 20, 1997 - Glenn announces on the 35th anniversary of his historic flight that he will not run for reelection in the US Senate.

October 29, 1998 - A 77-year-old Glenn becomes the oldest person to venture into space. Glenn serves as a payload specialist in the STS-95 crew aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.

February 2006 - NASA awards Glenn and 37 other astronauts the Ambassador of Exploration Award.

November 16, 2011 - Receives the Congressional Gold Medal for Distinguished Astronauts along with Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.

May 29, 2012 - Receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.

February 1, 2014 - Glenn and his wife are present as their daughter Lyn christens the Mobile Landing Platform John Glenn, a US Navy ship.

May 2014 - Undergoes successful heart valve replacement surgery.

April 24, 2015 - Ribbon-cutting ceremony for the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University. The college evolved from the John Glenn Institute for Public Policy and Management, founded at Ohio State in 1998.

June 28, 2016 - Attends a ceremony celebrating the renaming of the Port Columbus Airport to John Glenn Columbus International Airport.

December 7, 2016 - Ohio State University spokesman Hank Wilson says Glenn was hospitalized “more than a week ago,” but does not have any information about his condition.

December 8, 2016 - Dies at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio.

May 19, 2020 - Glenn’s wife, Annie, a lifelong advocate for those with speech impediments, dies of complications from Covid-19. She was 100.