John Glenn, the iconic astronaut and politician, has died at age 95, Ohio Governor John Kasich confirmed in a statement on Thursday, December 8.
“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,” Kasich wrote in the statement on Twitter. “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. Though he soared deep into space and to the heights of Capitol Hill, his heart never strayed from his steadfast Ohio roots. Godspeed, John Glenn!”
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) December 8, 2016
The former U.S. senator was hospitalized more than a week ago at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus with an unknown medical condition, NBC News reports. The astronaut suffered a stroke two years ago after having heart valve replacement surgery.
He started his career as a combat pilot in World War II and the Korean War. He broke the transcontinental flight speed record and was chosen as part of NASA’s first group of astronauts, called the Mercury 7. He successfully piloted the Friendship 7 solo to become the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962. The Marine turned politican returned to space in 1998 on Space Shuttle Discovery and became the oldest person to go into space at age 77.
Glenn later served as a Democratic senator for Ohio for 25 years, and had a brief presidential run in 1984 before retiring from politics in 1999. In 2011, he received the highest possible civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal.
A public memorial service will be held at Ohio State University’s Mershon Auditorium, and he will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in a private service, The Columbus Dispatch reports.
He is survived by his wife of 73 years, Annie Glenn, and their two children, John, 70, and Carolyn, 69.