LOS ANGELES - The attack on Pearl Harbor launched John Glenn on a career that was truly out of this world. Almost 75 years and one day later, he passed away, taking one final flight into the unknown.
In 1941, Glenn was a 20-year-old engineering student at Muskingum College. Like many Americans, he left school after the attack on Pearl Harbor and joined the military. In 1943, he became a fighter pilot and gained a reputation for his coolness under pressure while flying 59 combat missions during World War II.
Glenn served as an aviation instructor, and flew another 90 missions in Korea. Throughout the course of his military career, Glenn received the Distinguished Flying Cross six times and was awarded the Air Medal with 18 clusters.
After returning from Korea, Glenn set a coast-to-coast speed record as a test pilot. His Navy jet averaged a speed of 725 miles per hour, and flew from California to New York in 3 hours and 23 minutes. Asked how he felt about holding the new transcontinental speed record he replied, “It’s a real kick.”
Even before his space exploits, before the ticker tape parades, before serving as a U.S. Senator -- John Glenn started as a hero 75 years ago.
Thank you, sir. It was a real kick.