John Glenn Was One Of My Heroes
If you came to our house and looked at the study, you would find an autographed picture of John Glenn. Beside it is a model of his Freedom 7 Mercury space capsule that he orbited the earth with.
This all goes back to a sunny winter day in Houston in February of 1966. I had contacted John by phone. He agreed to do an interview with me for the Ross S. Sterling High School Silver Scribe newspaper.
At the appointed time, I arrived at his house in Taylor Lake, Texas (near NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center) accompanied by Ralph Wallace III and Kathleen Emory-Wallace.
The house was nice but not pretentious. I knocked on the door with my heart racing and my throat dry. The door opened and a man of average size appeared. He was wearing men’s slacks and a sports shirt. I knew that it was the famous astronaut John Glenn. He greeted all of us warmly and invited us to come into his home. He made us feel relaxed and at ease. We went into the living room where he invited us to sit down.
Those of you who know fighter pilots know that they fit into two categories. The first type is military, swaggering, aggressive and flashy like Buzz Aldrin. The second type of fighter pilot is a humorless engineer like Neil Armstrong. John Glenn was neither type. Despite flying 149 combat missions in the Pacific and accumulating enough military medals for a museum, he was modest and low-key. He was charming without over powering you. He was eloquent. He was a good listener. He was intelligent. You felt like you were talking to an honest political leader and not an astronaut who had made history by being the first American to orbit the earth.
The three hours that we spent together passed quickly. John talked about his adventures as a military pilot, test pilot and astronaut. He was so modest. He made it all seem like not a big deal. His wife Annie came in and we were introduced to her. She stammered and he was very protective and loving toward her. John was a wonderful family man and a husband who a lot of women would love to have as a partner in life. John told us that he wanted to run for office. He mentioned his close friendship with then Senator Robert Kennedy and the late president John F. Kennedy. I talked him out of an autographed picture in his full-dress Marine Corps uniform.
It seemed like the interview ended too quickly. John walked with us to the car. He had made a wonderful impression on me that I will treasure for the rest of my life.
As the saying goes: “All the rest is history.” John went on to run for the US Senate. Her served the people of Ohio for over 24 years as a Democrat. He went back to space on a mission with the Space Shuttle where he orbited the earth again.
He lived over 95 years and had an incredible life. I was heartbroken when I heard that he had passed away.