Godspeed John Glenn

ja2The last surviving member of the original “Mercury Seven” astronauts, passed away today, December 8, 2016.  John H. Glenn, Jr. was a decorated Lt. Col. in the US Marine corps, flew F-9s and an F-86 in combat during the Korean War, where he earned the nickname “Magnet Ass” for getting his planes thoroughly shot up.  The photo at right shows Lt. Col. Glenn with his wife Annie during that time period in the early 1950s.

By the late 1950s, Glenn distinguished himself as a test pilot at the infamous NAS “Pax” River facility in Maryland, eventually earning a fifth Distinguished Flying Cross for his accomplishments in jet aircraft.  It was there that he was recruited as the most prominent and celebrated member of the original Mercury astronauts.  At that time, in 1959, the astronaut corps worked and trained out of the NASA Langley facility on the grounds of Langley Field in Hampton, VA, which was already home to many of the nation’s military test pilots.  The following two photos are of Glenn and a few of the Mercury pilots at Langley Field, involved with some of the engineering work and training early in the program.  In the first photo, Glenn is on the left.

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A year after the above photo was taken, Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth aboard Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962.  He circled the Earth three times during a flight lasting almost 5 hours.  Glenn was the third American in space and the fifth human being in space.

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John and Annie Glenn with President Kennedy next to the Friendship 7 Capsule

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Glenn resigned from NASA in early 1964 to enter politics from his native state of Ohio, and he announced his intention of running for the U.S. Senate as a Democrat.  About a month later, he withdrew his candidacy after suffering a concussion in the bathtub.  Being a devout Presbyterian who had survived one of the most dangerous military and space flight careers without a scratch, probably due to divine intervention, the head injury possibly alerted Glenn that God clearly didn’t want any more democrats in the Senate.  Nevertheless, he recovered and persisted, and he ended up serving in the Senate until 1999.

John Glenn achieved many things in his life, but one of the more singular honors was a return to flight aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery on the STS-95 mission in 1998 at the age of 77.  He had lobbied NASA for two years to allow him to go back to space as a mission analyst for “geriatric studies.”  He was ultimately granted permission by President Bill Clinton as a favor, basically making it a shameless boondoggle to waste taxpayer money, proving that he really was a natural Democrat, even if a fairly harmless and honorable one.

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About GruntOfMonteCristo

Fearless and Devout Catholic Christian First, Loving Husband and Father Second, Pissed-Off Patriot Third, Rocket Engineer Dork Last.
This entry was posted in 'Murica, Democrats, NASA, Politics, US Congress. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Godspeed John Glenn

  1. This is the first that I heard of his death. RIP Colonel Glenn.

    And sometimes the right thing is to allow the boondoggle when it’s John Glenn getting one last ride on the rocket. I really don’t care what it cost – likely about the same as one smart bomb.

  2. Solaratov says:

    The man advanced space travel; and served as an inspiration. I believe that he earned that last trip on the rocket. RIP Col. Glenn.

  3. Papabear says:

    When I saw this post it reminded me of a friend in Colo Spgs who knew all these guys, (and those depicted in the movie “The Right Stuff”), “Mac” MacCleay. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lachlan_Macleay
    He told me about when he was a test pilot, and the mortality rate was 50%. I wondered if they had special seats to accommodate the guys… well… YOU know.

    • Well, some pilots have better guardian angels than others… It’s very cool that you know MacCleay! I bet he had some good stories. There were a few legends out at Waterton Canyon for a while. I don’t know of any who are left. But out in Virginia and down in Houston, we have a few Apollo guys who still work there. Most of them don’t have Wiki pages, though. Blogger Texan59 has a ranch next to Gene Cernan’s place in central west Texas. He’s talked to him a few times. I met Cernan at Purdue in the 80s, and he was looking pretty healthy, but I bet he’s getting old now.

  4. fredd says:

    As a 7 year old kid, I didn’t like John Glenn. My Saturdays back then were solely devoted to watching cartoons on Saturday morning: Popeye, Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har Har, Rocky and Bullwinkle. After John Glenn’s flight, one Saturday my dad turned on the TV set to watch ticker tape parades for John Glenn. Where was The Jetsons? What’s this parade stuff? I was not happy. Who the hell was this John Glenn jerk, and why was he goofing up my Saturday cartoon lineup?

    • I know! Right? After a while, though, the TV people stopped even reporting on space stuff. They were too busy harping on the Vietnam war and then Watergate. Man, I sure got tired at all the “Kids News” trying to explain about why Watergate was wrong. Funny how my grandkids aren’t getting “Kids News” shows on Saturday mornings explaining why Hillary Clinton is a criminal. I noticed that MTV devoted a lot of time this year to explaining why she needed to be President, though. Idiots.

    • papabear1950 says:

      Hey Fredd, you grew up at a good time. Ever notice when people now-a-days try to improve on the old stuff they typically ruin it? I think I saw a commercial starring “BullWookiee the Mooch” going into a very somber place telling a nearby rodent, “Hey, Rocky… watch me pull a vote out of this cemetery!”

      • fredd says:

        Papa: I dunno, even as a little kid, I noticed that the animation of Rocky and Bullwinkle was pretty darn cruddy. Ditto Dudley Dooright, Dr. Peabody and his boy Sherman, and some others, the cartoon abilities of those guys was flat out bad. I thought I could scribble some stick figures (at age 7), submit them and stand a real solid chance of making the sale to the producers of Rocky the Flying Squirrel, et al.

        Now, of course, we have computer animated ‘Toy Story,’ Monsters, Inc, and other outstanding examples of what animation can be. And, of course, South Park, which makes Rocky and Bullwinkle look brilliant.

  5. trailbee says:

    You had tv and Saturday cartoons? I grew up with a radio (and books). I always wanted to watch tv. The first thing I did was watch Bullwinkle and Caspar when I got married. And, here we are, older, wiser and ceding place of pride to a man who actually did watch cartoons, read books and then orbited Earth. He needed that early education to get those creative juices flowing. Cartoons – the pablum for developing minds. Got to love it!!! LOL

    • You’re so funny, Bee! But you may be right about the cartoons. Sometimes there was a lot of creative dialogue in those ‘toons. On the other hand, maybe it just caused children to start adopting sarcasm like Bugs Bunny? 😉

    • fredd says:

      You had radio and books? Luxury. All we had were slates of stone with hieroglyphics chiseled into them. But i always look on the sunny side of life: at least back then we had no book burnings.

      Get it? You see, the stone slates….oh, never mind.

      • Hahahahahahah! You had stone slabs??? We just had mud balls that we’d make marks on with toothpicks. My dad would come back from the grocery with a pocket full of dirt and say: “Sorry honey, the grocery list fell apart again. I just bought beer.”

      • trailbee says:

        You don’t know how right you are! I began school in Germany and we really did have slates and a stylus and a a sponge! No kidding. I still prefer pencil over pen, except the real thing, Shaefer or Waterman. As for the last? Oh, fredd, how you do make me smile :).

  6. Great post and I have to agree with LL and Solartov, RIP Col. Glenn.

    The Democrat thing was obviously a mistake.

  7. Euripides says:

    Getting here late. They don’t make ’em like John Glenn anymore. The Dems used to stand up for the little guy, and I think that was John Glenn’s idea. Of course the Dems today don’t believe in anything anymore but the pursuit of power.

    A Blessed Christmas to you and the Gruntessa.

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