Godspeed, John Glenn…Tribute Post

John Herschel Glenn Jr.: 18 July 1921 – 8 December 2016

Ah, John…I knew that your time was drawing near. You’ve gone places that I’ve only dreamed of; you have walked where I hope to tread, someday. You were the first American to orbit the earth, and your near-death experience at that time was still talked about with awe when I was in grade school. From the official NASA website:

On February 20, 1962, NASA launched one of the most important flights in American history. The mission? Send a man to orbit Earth, observe his reactions and return him home safely. The pilot of this historic flight, John Glenn, became a national hero and a symbol of American ambition. In 1958, John Glenn participated in a series of tests designed to select the first group of astronauts for the newly formed NASA Manned Space Program. Each astronaut candidate, from an original pool of 508, had to meet seven criteria.

They had to be test pilot school graduates in excellent physical shape, less than 40 years old, shorter than 5 feet 11 inches, qualified jet pilots, and they had to have at least 1,500 hours flying time and bachelors’ degrees in engineering. Glenn met all the requirements. He also had a reputation as one of the best test pilots in the country. In July 1957, he had set a transcontinental speed record by flying from Los Angeles to New York in 3 hours and 23 minutes. It was the first transcontinental flight to average supersonic speed…After three years of training, John Glenn rocketed into space aboard the Mercury capsule Friendship 7. He became the third American in space and the first to orbit Earth. The historical flight was no easy feat. At the end of his first orbit, a yaw attitude jet clogged, forcing Glenn to abandon the automatic control system and use the manual electrical fly-by-wire system. In 4 hours and 56 minutes, John Glenn circled the globe three times, reaching speeds of more than 17,000 miles per hour. The successful mission concluded with a splashdown and recovery in the Atlantic Ocean, 800 miles southeast of Bermuda.”

You inspired so many, myself included, to shatter bonds and reach for impossible dreams. From the official John & Annie Glenn Museum website:

John H. Glenn, Jr., was born in Cambridge, Ohio, on July 18, 1921, the son of John Herschel and Clara Sproat Glenn. At age two, young John moved with his parents to New Concord, where his father opened a plumbing business. After relocating to New Concord, the Glenns built a home that doubled as a rooming house for students from nearby Muskingum College.

Glenn would write many years later of his childhood, “A boy could not have had a more idyllic early childhood than I did.” Surrounded by older students, encouraged by a father who liked to travel, and tutored by a devoted mother, John developed an early interest in science, a fascination with flying, and a sense of patriotism that would define his adult life.

He graduated from New Concord High School and attended Muskingum College. Shortly after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Glenn enlisted in the Naval Aviation Cadet Program and became a Marine pilot. He flew 59 combat missions in the South Pacific during World War II. When the Korean conflict began, Glenn asked for combat duty and flew 63 missions. For his total of 149 missions during the two wars, he received many decorations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross six times.

After the Korean conflict, Glenn attended test pilot school and then joined the Naval Air Test Center’s staff of expert flyers. He served as a test pilot for Naval and Marine aircraft, including the FJ3, the F7U Cutlass, and the F8U Crusader. One of Glenn’s most notable accomplishments during this period was the 1957 speed record he set flying from Los Angeles to New York in three hours and 23 minutes. “Project Bullet” secured Glenn’s reputation as one of the country’s top test pilots and provided a stepping stone for his participation in the emerging space exploration program.

Glenn’s experience and skill made him a logical candidate for the astronaut corps being formed during 1958. He entered the space program as a participant in the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics’ “G” force tests. When NASA put out a call for pilots to participate in its suborbital and orbital program, Glenn volunteered without hesitation. In 1959, NASA selected him as one of the first seven astronauts in the U.S. space program. On February 20, 1962, atop an Atlas rocket, he rode into space and piloted the Friendship 7 spacecraft around the globe three times, becoming the first American to orbit the earth.

Glenn’s ride into space, a great technical accomplishment, held even greater significance for the country. Having lagged behind the Soviet Union in the “Space Race,” Americans saw the event as a political as well as scientific milestone. Across the country, they welcomed Glenn as a hero who had conquered the bounds of earth and given new wings to America’s spirit.”

I’ve been almost obsessed with space since I was a child, and every article about outer space that I’ve ever read has always included this amazing man. It isn’t lost on me that people who looked like me were excluded from the “Space Race,” but that never stopped me from being fascinated with what lies beyond the stratosphere. John Glenn has always been synonymous with outer space for my entire life, and his passing does not end it for me – he will always be the original “Rocket Man.” That song is the first of three that I play, here, to send him to the stars. Enjoy.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. saywhatumean2say
    Dec 08, 2016 @ 20:37:33

    Nicely done and Sooo Fast, I thought about a post but you’ve done it so well….I just say hurrah! And of course warp speed to John. ~~dru~~

    • sepultura13
      Dec 08, 2016 @ 20:39:28

      I heard about it an hour ago…amazing what I can whip up when not distracted by a word-count schedule, eh?
      Warp-speed, indeed! May he soar high and free for eternity.

  2. Mr. Militant Negro
    Dec 09, 2016 @ 00:46:28

    Reblogged this on The Militant Negro™.

  3. franhunne4u
    Dec 09, 2016 @ 00:54:08

    Strange how Space Oddity, about which song I have read so much, never crossed my ears before. I grew up with “Major Tom” (yes, that is how old I am) – and now I understand Major Tom by Schilling far better.

    • sepultura13
      Dec 15, 2016 @ 13:46:46

      I missed this comment – it got sent to my ‘Spam’ folder for some unknown reason, so I apologize for the (very) late reply!

      “Space Oddity” has been a favourite song of mine for as long as I can remember…it was on the radio often when I was a child, and I loved it every time.

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