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John Glenn quietly passed away today in a hospital in his home state of Ohio surrounded by his family. He was 95 years old.

Glenn cemented his place among the heroes in American history when, on February 20, 1962, he orbited the earth three times during the third NASA Mercury mission. But that momentous accomplishment was neither the beginning nor end of a lifetime of achievement.

He joined the Army Air Corps immediately after the Pearl Harbor attacks but wasn’t called to duty, so he enlisted as a Naval Aviation cadet and eventually took an interservice transfer to the Marine Corps. He wound up flying F4U Corsairs in the Pacific theater and ended World War II with 59 missions to his credit.

Senator, astronaut, Marine, MiG killer John Glenn dies at 95(Photo: NASA)

Glenn flew the Marine Corps’ new Panther jets during the Korean War, earning the nickname “magnet ass” because he seemed to attract anti-aircraft fire during his missions. Twice he landed with more than 250 holes in his aircraft.

He flew an exchange tour with the Air Force during his second rotation to Korea and wound up shooting down three enemy MiGs while piloting an F-86 Sabre.

Immediately after the war, he became a test pilot, something that wound up making him eligible to be among the first NASA astronauts. While assigned to the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics he flew an F-8 Crusader cross-country in just under three and a half hours during a mission called “Project Bullet.”

He joined NASA in 1959 and left after his first mission then immediately attempted to run for political office. He didn’t win a senate seat until 1974 and served the state of Ohio until 1999.

Glenn returned to space in 1998 when he flew as a payload specialist on the shuttle Discovery.

“John Glenn is, and always will be, Ohio’s ultimate hometown hero, and his passing today is an occasion for all of us to grieve,” said Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich. “As we bow our heads and share our grief with his beloved wife, Annie, we must also turn to the skies, to salute his remarkable journeys and his long years of service to our state and nation.”

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