John Glenn, the legendary war veteran, astronaut and United States Senator, died this afternoon at the age of 95 after being hospitalized in his home state of Ohio. After serving as a combat pilot in World War II and the Korean War, Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962. This feat came in the middle of the Cold War -- Russia had just achieved orbit itself and Glenn's trip evened out the space race between the two countries.
Glenn set the transcontinental speed record as a test pilot in 1957 and he soon after joined Mercury 7, the US' first class of astronauts. On February 20th, 1962, Glenn boarded NASA's Friendship 7 spacecraft and blasted off into orbit.
He famously commented, "Oh, that view is tremendous!"
Glenn was the last living member of the original Mercury 7 team. And in 1998, he broke another record: He blasted off again at the age of 77, making him the oldest person to reach space.
On the 50th anniversary of Glenn's initial trip around the Earth, we called him a "real American hero," a moniker he carried proudly until the end.