JOHN Glenn — the first American to orbit the Earth, a retired U.S. senator, a Marine veteran, and a son of Ohio — has gained a new and appropriate honor: The U.S. Navy is naming a 785-foot amphibious staging assault vessel after him.
The 92-year-old Mr. Glenn, his wife, and his daughter attended a naming ceremony over the weekend in San Diego. Rear Admiral Thomas Shannon said: “What better name could adorn this ship than John Glenn — a risk taker, an innovator, a man who got the job done?”
Naval officials say the USNS John Glenn can be reconfigured to perform a variety of tasks and can partially submerge. These capabilities will allow the vessel to move cargo and to transfer vehicles and personnel from other ships.
Mr. Glenn enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1942, while he was in college. As a Marine, he flew 49 combat missions in World War II and 90 missions during the Korean conflict.
In 1959, he was named one of the nation’s first astronauts. He risked his life during the nearly five-hour orbital flight in 1962 that transfixed the nation.
Mr. Glenn went on to serve Ohio, his home state, as a senator for 24 years. Indomitable in spirit at age 77, he became the oldest person to fly in space when he joined a shuttle mission in 1998.
In honorable retirement, John Glenn epitomizes the classic definition of citizen patriot — and American hero.