World remembers John Glenn as hero, legend

Melanie Eversley

Aeronautics and cultural leaders on Thursday hailed the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the earth as a pioneer who conquered space when science knew much less about its effects on the body, and as a military hero and all-around family man.

As word spread about the death of former astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn at the age of 95, those who knew him and admired him had only glowing words to share about the former Congressional representative from Ohio.

Ohio Sen. John Glenn at a President Clinton campaign rally in  Arlington, Ohio.

Ohio State University president Michael Drake remembered Glenn, who served in the U.S. Senate from 1975 to 1999, as "Ohio's consummate public servant and a true American hero." Glenn was an adjunct professor until recently at the school's John Glenn College of Public Affairs.

"He was an authentic hero whose courage, integrity, sacrifice and achievements inspired people," Drake said in a statement. "He leaves an undiminished legacy as one of the great people of our time."

Before Glenn, a Democrat, was a lawmaker he was an astronaut and the world of science remembered him for his contributions there.

"Godspeed, John Glenn," tweeted the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. "Ad Astra," the agency continued, offering the Latin phrase that means "to the stars."

Katherine Johnson, the African-American physicist, space scientist and mathematician who was the inspiration for the upcoming movie "Hidden Figures," worked with Glenn while helping to fortify the space program.

"A good man has left Earth for the last time," Johnson, now 98, said in a statement. "John Glenn's life will long be remembered for his time in space, his courage and his service to all Americans."

Tweeted astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, "There aren't many heroes left: WWII Korean War Fighter Pilot. Marine Colonel. NASA Astronaut. Senator. Married 73 yrs. John Glenn RIP 1921-2016."

Astronaut Peggy Whitson said via Twitter, "This is a tremendous loss for our nation and for the world."

Former U.S. Senator John Glenn attends the 109th Explorers Club Annual Dinner at The Waldorf=Astoria on March 16, 2013 in New York City.

Glenn also served in the U.S. Marine Corps, completing training in 1943 and serving as a fighter pilot in World War II and the Korean War.

"The Corps lost a legend today," the United States Marine Corps said in a statement. "Semper Fi," the corps added, the phrase short for "semper fidelis," the motto of the Marines, which means "always faithful."

Tweeted Oliver North, the former U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel known for the Iran-Contra affair, "John Glenn had all the right stuff." The reference harkened back to the 1983 movie "The Right Stuff" that detailed the first manned spaceflight by the United States and the story of the test pilots involved in aeronautical research at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The actor who will play Glenn in "Hidden Figures" that details the experiences of Johnson and her two assistants at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., honored the former astronaut on social media.

"Now THAT is how you life a life!" tweeted actor Glen Powell. "Godspeed, John Glenn. A true gentleman who humbly touched the stars and made us believe in the impossible."

Actor Jason Alexander of "Seinfeld" fame also wished Glenn "Godspeed." "Your legacy is eternal," Alexander said via Twitter.

John Glenn, American space-race hero, dead at age 95