John Glenn, a renowned astronaut, senator, combat bomber pilot and an American hero, died on Thursday in Columbus, Ohio. He was 95.

John Glenn, Astronaut And Senator, Dies At 95

Glenn, an Ohio native, was widely regarded as a symbol of the space age after becoming the first American to orbit Earth on Feb. 20, 1962. His death was announced via Twitter by Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Glenn had recently been hospitalized at the James Cancer Center at Ohio State University in Columbus, though university officials said at the time that admission there did not necessarily mean he had cancer. He underwent heart-valve replacement surgery in 2014 and had a stroke around that time.

Glenn’s venture into space in 1962 places him alongside dozens of other great American historical figures like Lewis and Clark, the Wright brothers and Charles Lindbergh.

The U.S., which was in the midst of the Cold War, anxiously waited that day 54 years ago when Glenn stepped into Friendship 7, the tiny Mercury capsule atop an Atlas rocket rising from the concrete flats of Cape Canaveral in Florida.

Russia appeared to be beating the U.S. in the space race at the time. Two Russians, Yuri A. Gagarin and Gherman S. Titov, had already orbited Earth the year before, overshadowing the feats of two Americans, Alan B. Shepard and Virgil I. Grissom. 

The Friendship 7’s flight lasted 4 hours, 55 minutes in total.

Glenn grew up the son of a plumber in New Concord, Ohio. He courted and eventually married a girl who lived just down the road from him, the former Anna Margaret Castor. 

Glenn fought in both World War II and the Korean War, and was elected to the Senate four times. He also ran for president in 1984.

In 1998, 36 years after his Mercury flight, Glenn got his wish for a return to orbit aboard the space shuttle Discovery. At 77, he became the oldest person to travel to space.

In 2012, President Barack Obama awarded Glenn the Medal of Freedom.

Glenn is survived by his wife; two children, Carolyn Ann Glenn of St. Paul and John David Glenn of Berkeley, Calif.; and two grandsons, Daniel and Zach Glenn.

Many politicians, scientists and celebrities, including President-elect Donald Trump, took to Twitter on Thursday to lament Glenn’s death:


Clearly, John Glenn will be dearly missed.

NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 24: Former astronaut John Glenn looks on at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) on September 24, 2009 in New York City. The Fifth Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) looks to gather prominent individuals in politics, business, science, academics and religion to discuss global issues such as climate change and peace in the Middle East. The event, founded by former president Bill Clinton after he left office, is held the same week as the General Assembly at the United Nations as most world leaders are in New York. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)