John Glenn (July 18, 1921 – December 8, 2016)

John Herschel Glenn Jr. (July 18, 1921 – December 8, 2016) was an American aviator, engineer, astronaut, and United States Senator from Ohio. He was one of the “Mercury Seven” group of military test pilots selected in 1959 by NASA to become America’s first astronauts and fly the Project Mercury spacecraft.

On February 20, 1962, Glenn flew the Friendship 7 mission and became the first American to orbit the Earth and the fifth person in space, after cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin and Gherman Titov and the sub-orbital flights of Mercury astronauts Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom. Glenn was the earliest-born American to go to orbit, and the second earliest-born man overall after Soviet cosmonaut Georgy Beregovoy. Glenn received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 1978, and was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1990. Glenn was the last surviving member of the Mercury Seven after the death of Scott Carpenter in 2013.

Glenn resigned from NASA on January 16, 1964, and the next day announced plans to run for a U.S. Senate seat from Ohio; however, a bathroom fall which resulted in a concussion caused him to withdraw from the race in March. He retired from the Marine Corps on January 1, 1965. A member of the Democratic Party, he finally won election to the Senate in 1974 and served through January 3, 1999.

On October 29, 1998, while still a sitting senator, he became the oldest person to fly in space, and the only one to fly in both the Mercury and Space Shuttle programs, when at age 77, he flew as a Payload Specialist on Discovery mission STS-95. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.


Distinguished Flying Cross × 6
Air Medal
Presidential Unit Citation
Navy Unit Commendation
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
China Service Medal
Navy Occupation Service Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Korean Service Medal
United Nations Korea Medal
South Korea Presidential Unit Citation
Congressional Gold Medal
Presidential Medal of Freedom
Congressional Space Medal of Honor