John Herschel Glenn, Jr. was born on July 18, 1921, in Cambridge, Ohio. He learned to fly at the small New Philadelphia airfield before enlisting in the Naval Aviation Cadet Program shortly after Pearl Harbor. Glenn was commissioned in the Marine Corps in 1943 and served in combat in the South Pacific; later he flew combat missions in the Korean conflict. For his service, Glenn received many honors, including the Distinguished Flying Cross (six occasions) and the Air Medal with eighteen clusters.

In the 1950s, Glenn served as a test pilot on Navy and Marine Corps jet fighters and attack aircraft. He set a transcontinental speed record in 1957 for the first flight to average supersonic speeds from Los Angeles to New York.

In 1959, John Glenn was selected as one of the first seven astronauts in the U.S. space program. Three years later, on Feb. 20, 1962, he made history as the first American to orbit the earth. Glenn's Mercury 6 mission completed three orbits in a five-hour flight, for which he received the Space Congressional Medal of Honor.

Glenn retired from the Marine Corps in 1965, and soon became active in Ohio politics. He was elected to the United States Senate in 1974, then reelected in 1980 and 1986. In 1992, John Glenn again made history by being the first popularly elected senator from Ohio to win four consecutive terms. His current term ends in January 1999; he is not running for reelection.

Early in 1998, NASA announced Glenn's appointment as a member of the crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery for shuttle mission STS-95, currently scheduled for October 29, 1998. He will serve as a payload specialist and a subject for basic research on how weightlessness affects the body of an older person. Glenn is 77 years old, about twice the age of a typical astronaut.

John Glenn and Anna Margaret Castor were married in 1943. They have a son, Dave; a daughter, Lyn; and two grandchildren.

Photos courteousy of NASA