First American to orbit the earth, dead at age 95

Mission accomplished, John Glenn.

The decorated fighter pilot who became a national hero in 1962 as the first American to orbit the earth died Thursday at the age of 95.

Glenn, the last survivor of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, was hospitalized for more than a week before his death at the James Cancer Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, said his spokesman Hank Wilson.

President Obama recalled Glenn — who embarked on his second space mission at age 77 — as a man who “lifted the hopes of a nation.”

Glenn “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,” the president said. “On behalf of a grateful nation, Godspeed, John Glenn.”

Glenn was survived by Annie, his childhood sweetheart, and wife of 73 years. She wore her $125 engagement ring across seven decades after Glenn popped the question in 1942.

Glenn went on to become a four-term Democratic senator from Ohio and a presidential candidate in 1984. And to the very end, the man who helped America catch up to the Russians in the race to space remained modest about his accomplishments.


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