tv Americas News HQ FOX News December 17, 2016 11:00am-12:01pm PST
remember, if you have your own hit or miss, tweet it to us at jer on fnc. that's it for this week's show. thanks to my panel and thanks to you for watching. i'm paul gigot. hope to see you here next week. ever since the dawn of the u.s. space program, one name has been synonymous with the true spirit of patriotism, honor and duty. legendary space pioneer astronaut john glenn epitomizes everything we believe an hair khan should be. today america bids farewell to this extraordinary man who allowed so many of us to dream big and challenge us to reach for the stars. hello everybody, and welcome to this special edition of america's news headquarters. i'm uma pemmaraju. mourners are filling the streets of columbus, ohio, remembering their state's native son. the hers made its way from ohio
capital building where his body has been lying in state escorted by a formation of 40 marines along this route. to this afternoon's celebration of life, it's taking place on the campus of ohio state university. john glenn died peacefully with his family at his side last week at the age of 95. he was the first american to orbit the earth and dedicated his life to the service of the greatest ideals for his country. he's an american original who will be forever celebrated for his shear grit and amazing grace. kristin fisher joins us live from columbus with more on the funeral service and the tribute from folks all across the globe. kristin? >> reporter: uma, there is john glenn memorabilia scattered all over this auditorium, i think this is u who americans will remember him the most, the dashing and daring astronaut in the silver space suit with the big smile that blasted into
space in 1962 on top a rocket that had a 40% failure rate. i'd imagine that the speakers here today, two of them being vice president joe biden and nasa administrator charlie bolden had a pretty tough time picking out what part of john glenn's life they wanted to talk about today. are they going to talk about the fact he was a war hero, a marine fighter pilot who flew over 100 combat missions in world war ii and the korean war? are they going to talk about his time as an astronaut, not only was he the first american to orbit the earth, 36 years later he then became the oldest person to ever fly in space. they could also talk about the fact that he was a senator for 24 years. there is so much that john glenn did in the 95 years that he had on this earth. today this public memorial service, it is open to the public. you had to purchase tickets. a lot of the people i spoke with say that they came here because john glenn was one of their childhood heroes, and they
brought their children here today who may not remember his heroic accomplishments, but they sure have heard about them. >> we've been watching movies about john glenn's life, and he's very, very interested in what john glenn achieved. i hope in some way he'll follow in john glenn's footsteps with whatever he does in his life. >> what do you want to be when you grow up? >> an inventor. >> what do you want to invent? >> new spaceships. >> in a way you'll be carrying on the legacy of john glenn. >> yeah. >> that kid walking around in his astronaut suit has been stealing the show here at ohio state university. one of the most touching moments yesterday was the moment when john glenn's window, 96-year-old annie glenn showed up to pay her respects, actually touching his casket at the ohio statehouse. they were married for 73 years. childhood sweethearts actually. they met in a play pen.
so i think one of the things that stands out the most to me is, not only did john glenn have all these tremendous professional accomplishments, but he had a very, very full and rich personal life as well. uma? >> he certainly did. and their marriage certainly celebrated by so many because they were each other's best friend. kristin, thank you very much. for more on the life on john glenn, let's turn to rusty weiker, a former astronaut who served on the apollo 9 mission. so nice of you to join us today. really appreciate it. >> thanks. happy to be here. >> let's talk for a moment about his legacy. what is it that you remember most about this extraordinary individual and the impact he had on your life? >> well, john was an inspiration for me going into space actually. it was literally reading the day after his orbital mission about
his flight that inspired me to really commit to trying to become an astronaut. luckily i made it. but it was literally john's -- john and john's flight that were my inspiration for becoming an astronaut. >> you know, his accomplishments certainly so many, but when we take a look at that moment in time, the time when we were in the midst of the space race, he shattered that myth and truly put america on the map. >> he did. it's hard for people to remember back to those times, even people my age. but america was in the dumps. we were psychologically under water with the soviet union
having launched the first satellite into space, the first dogs into space, the first man into space, the first woman into space. the united states thought of itself as the into pit me of science and technology. yet, here we were way behind and john really made the big difference. alan shepherd and gus grissom flew before, but john was the first american to actually orbit the earth. he came back a hero. he was a hero before he left, but when he came back, he was probably the greatest non-political hero that the united states had. >> you know, as far as that hero status is concerned, as i understand it, john f. kennedy did not want him to go back into space because he didn't want anything to happen to him, that he wanted him to remain the hero icon for america because he symbolized so much. according to reports that i read
john glenn didn't know this until years later because he really wanted to get back into space as soon as he landed back on earth after that first mission. >> it's a real irony, isn't it? space, and at the same time the side effect is that you can't do it again because you're too valuable now. it's a real irony. those kinds of ironies occur -- it happened with neil armstrong to a certain extent as well. i guess it was when john, after he served 24 years or almost 24 years as a senator, that we decided he became expendable again and sent him up. >> exactly. he became the oldest man to be an astronaut, to go into space. he even had to lobby for that position for quite a while. it took a couple years to convince nasa that he was ready and willing to do it. >> it was not only convincing
nasa. in a way john had to convince himself, too. it was typical of john that it wasn't just putting john glenn national hero back up into space, but john had to make it that we were going to learn a lot about geriatrics in space and things of that kind 679 to the very end, john -- there had to be a real higher purpose for him flying than simply john glenn wanted to fly again in space. >> indeed. i know he came from very humble roots growing up in ohio there. a lot of folks consistently say he never put on airs no matter how famous he became, that it was not in his dna to do so, and that his father apparently inspired john glenn to fly after they saw a barnstormer in the field and his dad took him up on that flight, and from then on it was just magic, it was a love affair that lasted all of his life. >> yeah.
i don't know was a pilot's pilot before he became an astronaut. he set the first transcontinental speed record, super sonic flight in an f-8. he was already a hero. he became a very close personal friend of mine, and even more than john, i think annie glenn was one of my favorites of the whole time in the space program. annie was just a wonderful, strong woman and i always loved her. >> talk about that relationship for a moment. we've heard the story that they actually met while they were babies playing in the same play pen because the families knew each other. they actually became more serious once they were in school, childhood sweethearts and all the way through college and they got married after he served as a pilot in the war. what was it about that relationship that endured and made it so special from your point of view.
>> charlie made a wonderful statement, if anybody is looking for aed mo el in terms of a successful and wonderful marriage, you want to look at john and annie glenn. they were just a wonderful, deeply in love couple. and both of them were -- john was a gentleman in the old school sense of the word. annie was a lady. they were just mr. and mrs. america. at the same time, annie, despite her handicap of having a very difficult stutter worked all her life to overcome it and did, but annie, in spite of the stutter, was a very strong woman. john supported her all the way, including when she had a little set-to with vice president lyndon johnson one day you may have heard about. >> indeed. you can tell our audience anti that story. >> one of the several attempts
at launching john before he actually went up was under way and weather was a real problem and they were going to have to cancel the mission and it was very anxious whether or not he was going to go. the vice president was done in houston and wanted to drop in on annie glenn to speak with her and frankly to get on television, and he parked his vehicle a couple blocks away from their house and they kept calling. annie glenn kept saying no, i'm not interested in having the vice president visit. it was a personal time. this happened several times until finally they called -- the vice president had nasa call down to the cape to john and tell them that annie wasn't cooperating and could he help out. john said absolutely not. annie doesn't want the vice president, he's not going to go there. >> she was the boss on that one. >> absolutely. >> let's bring in tom jones who
is also a former astronaut flying four shuttle missions and spent about 53 days in space. he is someone we turn to often for anything related to space. it's a pleasure to have you here as well. you're also the author of ask the astronaut, a galaxy of astonishing answers to questions on space flight. i know john glenn was also a big reason for you to get involved in space as well. is that not true? >> it's just a treat, uma to be with you today because i get to talk to one of my other heroes, rusty schweiker. even before i thought about rusty, i thought about john glenn when i was about 7 or 8 years old when john flew his 1962 flight and i bought a book from school called "americansor" he was one of the myth thick
heroes of the mercury 7 astronauts who made us sit up and pay attention in school as their test flights occurred one after another that got us on the way to the moon. if there was anything that epitomized the role of an astronaut, this was the guy, john glenn. he and the colleagues were the people i emulated or wanted to rub shoulders with some day. i think one of the measures that the country and nasa gave me in my astronaut career was meeting people like rusty schweiker and john glenn. it was a real treat for me as an astronaut. >> what makes it all so remarkable is that both of you and the other select few astronauts on the planet, you belong to a special tra fernity. you experienced something that so few of us have done and it's extraordinary to be part of something so very special and be
influenced by space pioneers like john glenn who, when he took that flight on the friendship 7, really he didn't know whether or not he was going to come brack safely or not. it was on shear grit and courage in terms of making sure he was going to be prepared for that flight. he was very low key about it, but very determined to serve his country in this way. could you talk more about that, tom. >> john glenn went into his mercury career with his eyes wide open. he and the other astronauts experienced launch failures in cape canaveral. they saw atlas rockets that were going to carry them into space blow up before their eyes. by the time john stepped on board the friendship 7 craft, the failure rate for the atlas was about 40%. only six out of ten rockets were flying successfully. these astronauts were going to get into a rocket with that track record and put the u.s. back in the space race. he went into his flight with his
eyes wide open. it was like his previous experiences in world war ii and a mig killer in korea. he knew his business and knew what the risks were. he sized them up and stepped forward. very impressive to me. >> rusty, i was doing doing research on you as well and i was listening to an interview where you described the experience of what it's like to step back and really behold what is before you in space and the extraordinary moment when you realize this is a view that so few will get to see. that's something john glenn talked about as well. when you describe what it's like to be in space and to be one of the pioneers in terms of nasa's great efforts to make a difference in space and be part of something quite special. >> i'm sure one of john's biggest regrets was not being able to go outside the spacecraft on either of his flights, a space walk or extra
vehicular activity, eva, as we call it, really one of the high points of anybody's flight in space. i know john would have loved to do that. when you are in space, you see the whole planet and recognize all of life and everything you value is down there on that beautiful planet in this incredible black space it hangs in. but when you're outside, that's so much more impressive. you're out there in space as a satellite yourself. and you wonder about it. i know at the time i flew on apollo nine and i was outside, those thoughts came roaring into my head. how did i get here and why am i here, what is this all about? you realize this is really the beginning of life emerging out of mother earth, moving away into the cosmos.
the earth will always be our home planet. but what john and those astronauts did in those early days was start the process of cosmic birth. human life and life in general moving out into the universe. that's a pretty special time in history. >> rusty, the materials that were used for the capsule of friendship 7, really not as -- they were very thin. people might be very surprised to know that it was kind of miraculous that one was able to travel in that and actually or bit the earth because they weren't that strong. >> they were strong enough. the metal or plastic on my car today isn't very thick either. that's not one of the things that really bothered you. what tom said, blowing up on the
pad and witnessing a rocket blow up on a pad, that's more impressive than the thin skin of the vehicle. >> for our viewers, we're breaking away just for a second to look at what's happening there as we get set to remember john glenn, vice president joe biden greeting some of the people in attendance. he will be speaking this afternoon and paying tribute to john glenn as well. tom, did john glenn give you any special piece of advice that you remember and you took to heart in your space career. >> i met john in 1998 when he came to train for the shuttle "discovery" flight. he had a lot of research tasks. he was a sitting senator, but he came down to take this flight very seriously. they came to work every day and what impressed me about his presence there was that he came and had a meeting with the astronauts at their weekly staff meeting. he said, yes, you know i'm
senator glenn, i'm here for this flight coming up. but to you guys i'm john, just another test pilot, another astronaut with you and i'm glad to be back, glad to be part of your group. he came down to our level. you could run down on the elevator and ask him how the training was going. i think one of the things i remember is his humility, a senator and national icon of the space age, a very approachable guy, and so was his wife. they were role models for all of us. >> the other piece of his life that obviously was very important to him was as his role as a senator. he wasn't really that comfortable with the actual campaigning or politics in general. he was wanting to do service, he ran for president and didn't win. what we keep hearing over and over again was that he wasn't someone that really wanted to
sell himself, and that that was very uncomfortable, the idea of serving was great. some of the things you have to do in order to get there and stay there, those are things he didn't really like. is that right, rusty? >> john was a man of grace. john was not someone who needed to have his name up in lights or to acquire things. he was not -- as you said, he was interested in being of service. frankly, the fact that he wanted to fly again was a bit selfish. he just loved space and loved flying so much that he wanted to really see what it was like to spend some time in orbit the way tom did. that he hadn't had with just three short orbits earlier in his life. he wanted to get up there. the country would happily have put john back up just because he
was john glenn. as i said earlier, typically john had to wrap his presence in space again as contributing a great body of knowledge about geriatrics and space, et cetera. some of us chuckled about it. i teased annie about it. nevertheless, it was typical of john. >> gentlemen, stand by for just a moment. i want to introduce more on the life of john glenn. anchor john scott gives us some perspective now. >> reporter: john herschel glenn, junior, will be remembered for his many roles in america's history. this american icon was a warrior in battle, our first astronaut to orbit the earth and one of our most successful political leaders on capitol hill. in 1998 he added oldest person in space to his roster of achievements. >> i can't help but stand here today with a real sense of deja
vu, some 40-year-old, almost, sense of deja vu. >> reporter: he was born july 18, 1921 in cambridge, ohio and attended muss keying gum college. after the japanese attacked pearl harbor he signed up for the aviation cadet program and became a marine corps pilot long before senator john glenn landed in our nation's capital, he served in world war ii flying 59 successful missions. offensive years later this leather neck was ready to fly sorties again this time over north korea. after serving in korea, glenn attended test pilot school at the naval air test center in maryland. here he gained early national recognition by setting the transcontinental speed record from los angeles to work in 3 hours and 23 minutes. by the late 1950s, the u.s. manned space program was just being conceived. john glenn was selected as one of the first seven astronauts for project mercury.
three years later on february 20th, 1962 he made history, becoming the first american to orbit the earth. >> it's turning around. the view is tremendous. >> reporter: after a few failed attempts at launching a political career, glenn ran again in 1974, this time' easily won a seat in the senate. he was reelected by the largest margin in the history of the state. >> my question when he ran in a primary was that he had no feel for politics at all, but he had a tremendous appeal to people because he was plain spoken, and he was a national hero. >> senator glenn ran in the democratic presidential primaries of 1984 but eventually bowed out to former vice president walter mondale. on january 16, 1998, nasa announced plans to return the 76-year-old legend to space, 36 years after he first or bitted the earth.
john glenn's second trip to space took off as planned in october of 1998. >> liftoff of "discovery" with the crew of six astronaut heroes and one american legend. >> when the mission was over, america's oldest space traveler was given his second ticker-tape parade on broadway in new york city. >> i would say he's one of the few legitimate american heroes of our time. >> i think people think at my age i'm supposed to be a couch potato. you need to get out and fulfill your dreams and ambitions at any arj. >> reporter: following his return to space, he and wife annie founded the john glenn institute for public service at ohio state university. they also served as trustees of their alma mater, muss keying gum college. john scott, fox news. and that's just a sampling of some of the things he
accomplished in his extraordinary life. i want to bring back rusty schweiker and astronaut tom jones who have been sharing their thoughts and reflections about john glenn. i thought it was very interesting that president kennedy and his brother, robert kennedy, wanted john glenn to run for public office, run for senate shortly after his first mission, but apparent wli john aid he thought it was too soon after his historic flight and he thought his duty was to nasa and he turned the offer down, tom. >> he thought he would be viewed as cashing in on his celebrity. he had the most celebrated ticker-tape parade in new york ever since charles lindbergh or the end of world war ii. he didn't want to be viewed as a guy cashing in on his nasa celebrity. he waited a while asking for further flight assignments.
he asked the boss at johnson for his next ride and never got an answer. he couldn't get a flight assignment. i think after some disappointment and hesitation he decided to put his chips into the political world and pursue a chip there. he had a bathroom accident that knocked him out of his first campaign with a hospitalization. it wasn't until '7 that he became a senator. it was great to have a guy in the senate who new space policy backwards and forwards. he was a great advocate for human space exploration. i think that's where his value was most appreciated by all the astronauts. >> rusty, let me ask you about the training for that mission when he was a much older man. did he say it was particularly difficult for him to go through that rigorous training before he went up in space? >> uma, i can't speak to that directly but tom can. perhaps, tom, you can fill in the training for his second mission.
>> i wish i had been on john's crew. i was not. a lot of my colleagues flew with him on that space shuttle "discovery" mission and understood him as a human being. what was so nice is when you have a crew member that slips in at the last moment, sometimes that can disrupt the comradery, the crew coordination needed for a mission. here comes john glenn, moving onto a crew that's already been together for a year or year and a half. yet it was seamless, because of his experience, his humility. he slipped right into that crew and anything the other astronauts on the crew wanted him to do to relieve them of more critical duties on board he was ready to do, whether it was clean the cabin at the end of the day or go check on one of the science experiments there. there was no job on the space shuttle that was too unimportant for john glenn to take on. that kind of attitude made him fit seamlessly into the crew. >> wonderful reflections indeed. gentlemen, stand by. services are beginning. let's listen in. >> -- the depth and breadth of
the life he led but we will try, we will try. this afternoon we will also celebrate the unfailing promises of god. we remember that god's love for us is stronger than death. today we hold fast to that truth as we celebrate senator glenn's li life. now please join me in our call to worship. before god spoke the first word of creation, there was love. >> when we draw our last breath and leave this world, love will be waiting for us.
then let us worship god. >> looking back on it now, it was almost an eye diideayllic p have a childhood, patriotism and feelings about the country was a given. you expected that. it wasn't something that was rare. as i look back on all the influences of whether it was religious thought or morals or ethical behavior, whatever, it was almost an idyllic place for kids to grow up. i had a teacher in school named harper steel. he taught a course called civics at that time. it was the study of government and politics.
he was a wonderful teacher. he made the whole thing come alive. i used to look forward to his classes. it was something that really inspired me later on. >> god, our refuge and strength, you're always close to us at every moment of our lives. meet us now in this time of sadness and lift our eyes to the peace and light of your constant care. help us to hear your words of grace, that any fear we might have will be dispelled by your love and loneliness eased by
your presence and hope renewed by your promises. we gather this day in this place to grieve senator john glenn's death and to celebrate a life well lived and to rejoice in his new life that will never end. bless also those he loved who are gathered here today. pour out your blessings on this assembly and allow your grace to be our guide. sustain us, oh lord, with your comfort and presence today and always. we pray this in your name all gracious god, amen. >> the following is a passage that is read on yom kippur, the holiest day of the jewish year and lends perspective to the inevitable cycle of life. if some messenger were to come
with us with the offer that death should be overthrown but with the one inseparable condition that birth should also cease, if we who live here today were given the chance to live forever but on the clear understanding that never again would there be a child or youth or first love, never again new persons with new hopes, new ideas, new achievements, ourselves always and forever, could the answer be in doubt? as john glenn lived, let us treasure the time we have and resolve to use it well. let us live deliberately and make each moment count, a chance to apprehend some truth, to experience some beauty, to conquer some evil, to relieve some suffering, to love and be loved, to achieve something of lasting value. help us to fulfill the promise that is in each of us so that
when we are gone, another generation will say our world is better because, for a brief time, we lived. it has been said that people come into our lives for a reason, and i think we have all been blessed by the extraordinary life of john glenn. >> so i got my private pilot's license in the spring of 1941. and then pearl harbor occurred. >> a date which will live in infamy. >> i knew what my responsibilities were at that time. my dad and mother weren't too keen for me dropping out of school at that time, but it was my duty to do and i did it.
>> i was impressed with the marine corps and i thought the marines were the best and i wanted to be part of that. >> please join me in saying the words of the 23rd psalm as printed in your programs. the lord is my shepherd, i shall not want. he maketh me to lie down in green pastures. he leadeth me beside stillwaterers, he restoreth my soul. he leadeth me in paths of
righteousness for his name's sake. yea, though i walk through the valley of the shadow of death, i will fear no evil, for thou art with me. thy rod and staff, they comfort me. thou prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, thou anoint my head with oil, my cup run negligent over. surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and i will dwell in the house of the lord forever. it's a privilege to say a
few words in honor of our esteemed friend and colleague. there are those here today who have known senator glenn for 60, 70, even 90 years. most of us knew him long before we actually met him. we knew him through news reports and flickering events among those so spectacular. the suspense of the countdown, the majesty of the liftoff, the technical brilliance. our nation was proud of the achievement and proud of our brave and dashing hero. more than that, we cared about him personally. we prayed for him personally, for his family, for his happiness and his safety. the mission captured our minds, but john glenn won our hearts. there were many reasons for that. foremost among them was the quality of john glenn the man, a
decorated combat veteran, a fearless test pilot, but also importantly a dedicated husband and father. he was very much like all of us, a super human work ethic perhaps, but in so many other ways like our father, our brother, our husband, our neighbor from new concord, ohio. he was a consummate teammate. he put complete faith in those who supported him and then risked it all, so vulnerable and so human in that tiny capsule to show us we could succeed. this gave millions of us the confidence to know that we could reach our dreams. his service life stretching over the past half century was exemplary and inspiring. from the beginning and throughout, he read ated authenticity and confident, perfect humility. he was the opposite of boastful. as truly outstanding people do,
he let his actions speak for themselves. he was competitive, but his accomplishments were always in the context of doing his best to do a good job, to allow himself to be a role model and to our everlasting fortune, he returned home, to his home, to ohio, and after leaving office, to the ohio state university which he loved dearly and served energetically and with distinction as a faculties member and elder statesman throughout the last years of his life. we are eternally grateful. in that context we met john glenn during the recruitment process for this position. we were appropriately very flattered that he would take time to come out to the airport on a sunday afternoon. but the main memory from that meeting was that we learned immediately that there was much more to him than we had
appreciated from afar, and that more was annie. the two of them together radiated warmth and optimism. the bond between them was palpable. in meeting annie we shook hands and smiled and didn't let go. as we talked she held my hand for several minutes, as though i were a grandson returning home, and we spoke as though we had known each other for years, and that easy, open greeting welcomed us to the community. after moving to columbus, we had the pleasure to visit with john and annie on several occasions, some private, some public. the first was dedication of the john glenn college of public affairs. he was passionate about education in the college and honored it bore his name. he was thrilled at the varied backgrounds and interests of the students, tomorrow's leaders. he was ever present in his office or attending events or welcoming dignitaries, always doing his best to inspire by
example a consistent unwavering theme in his life. the dedication was on a brisk, crystal bright spring day. the trees on the oval were bursting with new life. the excited crowd was gathering facing the steps outside page hall. it looked just like the scene you saw behind me. the krouz was so large it spread out across the street, onto the other side of college road. the scene was of cars just visible above the heads of the people in the foreground snaking slowly through the crowd. and it was reminiscent eerily of something. i took a few minutes to grasp, and then it came it was really reminiscent and it dawned that it looked just like a ticker-tape parade for an honored native son, as though it were february 1962 all over again, a sign from above, perhaps, of a job well done and great things to come.
the second moment to share occurred just over a year ago. this time at a social dinner for the four of us at a local restaurant. it was like an old school double date, and we were talking broadly about university life and the events of the day. and the conversation turned to the 1960s and their friendships with members of the kennedy family and the faithful events of june 1968. he shared a story you know well, after senator kennedy was wounded, the glenns were asked by the kennedy family to take the five children who were in california with them back to the home in virginia and to watch over them while events in los angeles unfolded, and this they did. on the morning of the second day he got the call and it felt to him to draw the children together to share the unspeakable news. he said he called them into a room and sat on the edge of a bed and as he was reliving this moment, his voice broke and he
couldn't continue, a half century later. ae reflexly i reached out and took his hand, and then i caught myself, wondering if i had unwittingly crossed some privilege of familiarity. but before i acted, he squeezed my hand and held it tightly and after a pause said that telling those kids that their father was gone was the toughest thing he had ever done. it took him then a few minutes to regain composure. i thought in that moment when he was so powerful, so vulnerable, so human, i thought what it means to be steadfast, what it means to be reliable, what it means to be compassionate, what it means to be loving and why those measures of character are so important, why that matter so much. in that moment, more than flights around the planet or the bravery of defending our nation under arms or decades of being a servant leader in our university
or or government, in that moment he exemplified the transcendent beauty of true courage. as we bask in the glow of greatness, we are up lifted and inspired. inspired because we, too, can be steadfast and true. we can be compassionate. he lived an outstanding life in a way that exemplified the value and power of being our best. we can honor him by doing what we can every day to be our best selves. there can be no more powerful legacy, n impactful lega legacy. a man for the ages leaves us with a message for the ages. god speed john glenn. god speed indeed.
miles traversed, three hours, 23 minutes, 8.4 seconds. >> we broke the record by quite a bit, by 20 minutes or so. >> to annie, the true source of john's remarkable strength for their many years together, to david and lynn who shared their father with a grateful nation, i am honored to be here today to celebrate the life of a man i am proud to have called both a hero and a friend. only a handful of people in history have been called upon to publicly embody the ideals of an entire nation. fewer still have stood to the task at both wartime and piece, and none have answered the call more perfectly than john glenn.
he became my hero early in my career as a marine and still is today. he defined an age of american history in three-storied institutions. whether he was orbiting the earth or the senate floor, he was always a marine. on his way to attend annie's recital one day, john heard on the radio that pearl harbor had been attacked. anyone who knows annie understands what a sacrifice it was for john to put their marriage plans on hold, leave college and join the fight. anyone who knew john understands that he didn't see a choice. he saw his duty to serve. he tried to join the army air core but they couldn't take him. instead he entered the naval aviation cadet program where he met his lifelong friend tom miller. he chose the marine corps for the same reason many of us do,
because we have the best looking uniforms. after he earneds his wings, he and his buddy tom were first assigned to a transport squadron. this was not in their plan. here we see one of the first examples of what he called collective opportunity. this is where you see an opportunity and you position yourself to be competitive for the position. on this occasion it backfired. he and his pal tom heard the marine corps was going to get p-28 planes being flown by the army air corps. they thought if they were trained as multiengine pilots it would give them a leg up on being competitive for this twin engine fighter. the marine corps did not get the p-38 but they got multiengine
squadron and not the fighters they maneuvered so skillfully to get. just across the field were two fighter squadrons, so he and pal tom walked over and asked for a transfer. that story sounds simple now but john's version involved being chewed out by his colonel like something from the movie. this would not be the last time john paid the price for positioning himself for an assignment. on another occasion, john, only a lieutenant at this time, talked charles lindbergh into lending him his demonstration fighter which he was touring through bases around the country. this audacity led to another pointed conversation with his squadron commander. even then the country was having to hustle to keep up with john glenn. we admired the determination he brought to the work, but he wasn't in it for himself. service to the nation was personal for him.
he lost his wingman on his very first combat mission. he understood the risk. he knew firsthand the heavy task of gathering a friend's personal effects and writing a letter to the next of kin. john went on to fly 140 combat missions in two wars. he never shirked from danger. drew enemy fire like a meg net giving rise to a more infamous nickname which i can't repeat here. he shot down three migs, and on two occasions he landed with more than 250 bullet holes in his airplane, but the man himself was bulletproof. john's exemplary service in two wars earned him a slot as a test pilot. his most memorable mission was to fly super sonic across the country and set the world speed record. it was to test the durability of engines in continuous
afterburner. it's important to note the limit on those engines was five minutes. he crossed the country in three hours 23 minutes and proved the engine was a lot better than it. he call it woued it project bul because he was going to be flying than a .45-caliber pistol would. it turns out during the flight, unbeknownst to him, conditions were perfect over part of the country for sonic booms which he drug from indianapolis to his hometown of new concord, rattling windows the whole way. it wasn't the last america to hear from the world's fastest marine. the motto at the marine over kind school is "lead by example." and john set a fine example for us all. his wingman in korea, the great baseball playered at the williams, once called him one of the calmest men i have ever met,
no matter how perilous the situation. he might have been referring to an occasion where williams was hit by anti-aircraft fire, and his plane was ablaze. john pulled alongside, pointed up, and climbed to higher altitude, and with the lack of oxygen, the flames were extinguished. williams made it back to base. of all the war stories, this one perhaps best illustrates what john meant to us. he invited us up to his level where he discovered what an american could do. he once said he had been a marine for 23 years, and it just wasn't enough. we had john for 95 great years, and it still wasn't enough. a long, full life is a gift, and john made his a gift to us all. today we say thank you. for the service and sacrifice,
for the faith and the friends p friendship, and for always leading us higher. even though the marines's hymn was written over 200 years ago, they had john glenn in the mind when they wrote the lines, "first to fight for right and freedom and to keep our honor cle clean. we're proud to claim the title of united states marine." colonel john glenn has made 'tis last takeoff, and he'll be missed but never forgotten. >> seven, six, five, four, three, two -- >> godspeed, john glenn. >> -- one, ignition, liftoff. ♪
optimism that he's always radiated, i'd also like us to remember his many achievements and the pioneering spirit that he exemplified. i also want to thank annie, lynne, and david, and the entire glenn family for sharing their husband, father, grandfather with the world. every one of us on planet earth has benefited from having him on our team. annie, you and john exemplified for all of us what it means to be united as a couple. your love and friendship over 73 years is unlike anything i've ever seen. i'm glad and incredibly blessed that i was able to witness your devotion. i hope that jackie and i can emulate your lifetime of love. i was so moved and humored when
i called john and annie earlier this year to congratulate them on their 73rd anniversary. when john put annie on the phone, he said -- she said, and i quote, "charlie, you know, i think this is going to work." john glenn always said yes. yes to his country's call and the united states marine corps, yes to being the first american to orbit earth as one of "mercury 7," yes to his state's nomination to serve in the senate, and yes to the ongoing call of his nation to help it forge a path through a new millennium. it was courage, grace, and humility jaundice played throughout -- john displayed throughout his life that lifted him above the stars. as the current head of nasa, i
can say unequivocally that we're standing on john glenn's shoulders as bee pursue a journey to mars. a journey that would not be possible without his bravery and sel selfless dedication. i know that and countless other astronauts who had the privilege of following senator glenn into space can pinpoint his remarkable accomplishment as the first american to orbit earth as the seed of our aspirations. even in his 70s he continued to break barriers taking to space again in the space shuttle. i was so proud to see this american soar on the sts95 mission. just as with his first flight, he planted a seed that someday americans from all walks of life might experience space and the wonder of our planet from orbit and see it as a unified hold. kennedy space center director bob cabana, another marine,
recalls of that time just how excited john was to once again be one of the guys. and how happy and blessed he felt to be part of the space program he loved and valued so much. steve lindsay who is with us today flew with john glenn as the pilot of the sts 95 on "discovery." he said, "what i learn good john on that experience was that he's authentic. every bit the hero the world and our nation holds him to be. john was at his core a man of integrity, humility, and kindness. someone who put others ahead of himself, a team player, and someone you could always count on." john glenn always represented the best of our american ideals. his personal popularity was enormous. perhaps because he was so
approachable, so genuine. people felt as though he could sit down in their parlor for a chat and be right at home. or like steve lindsay says, that he would be a great neighbor. john glenn was deeply compassionate. he valued everyone, no matter his race or gender. he was ahead of his time in many ways. it was he who personally requested that catherine johnson, a black woman from west virginia, from white sulfur springs, west virginia, working as a human computer at the langley research center, he requested that catherine johnson do the verifying of the calculations for his historic flight as a backup to the ibm electric computer. john was just like that. john made us look up. not only to the sky thinking we
might actually be able to see him up there but toward the higher purpose that we as a country are always striving to achieve. leepted innovation and bravery. and with that infectious grin, he made us all feel good about ourselves. john first flew aboard "friendship 7," and he was truly a friend of humanity. a daring pilot who risked his life in world war ii and korea and worked tirelessly to advance the field of aviation long before he took to space. he dared the utmost on behalf of us all. it is fitting that this day also marks the 113th anniversary of the wright brothers' first powered flight. just as john advanced the frontiers of aviation, so, too,
we will follow his legacy to us to travel farther in space. john glenn received many accolades, but his true measure is taken not in awards but in the respect he still commands on both end of the political spectrum. by the large shadow he cast on our entire endeavor, to travel farther into the solar system and by the bright flame of his inspiration which continues to illuminate our way. godspeed, john glenn, and thank you. we will never forget you. ♪ >> i decided it was time to go