US president Barack Obama paid tribute to John Glenn, the first American astronaut to orbit the earth, saying that America has "lost an icon" from his record-breaking achievements to his many citations as a decorated military pilot.
Glenn, who was also a long-time United States senator, passed away Thursday at the age of 95. He was admitted to the James Cancer Hospital at the Ohio State University last week for an undisclosed illness. He also previously had a cardiac valve replacement surgery back in 2014.
"Michelle and I have lost a friend. John spent his life breaking barriers, from defending our freedom as a decorated Marine Corps fighter pilot in World War II and Korea, to setting a transcontinental speed record, to becoming, at age 77, the oldest human to touch the stars. John always had the right stuff, inspiring generations of scientists, engineers and astronauts who will take us to Mars and beyond -- not just to visit, but to stay. ...the last of America's first astronauts has left us, but propelled by their example we know that our future here on Earth compels us to keep reaching for the heavens," Obama said in his statement.
Glen's fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin was also saddened by the loss, referring to Glenn as a "space pioneer and world icon." Aldrin himself is also currently in a hospital after he was getting treatment from a trip to the South Pole.
"I am very sorry that he has departed us with his wisdom. I join that crowd of people and the entire nation and the world in paying homage to his service," said Aldrin.
Glenn was born in Cambridge, Ohio on July 18, 1921 and made his mark in history for completing a triple orbit flight inside a space capsule named Friendship 7 back in 1962. He also served in the US Senate for more than two decades.
Glenn received numerous awards for serving in the military as a combat pilot during World War II and the Korean War. His military record showed he took part in 149 combat missions, including a remarkable feat of shooting down three MIG jet fighters during the last few days of the Korean War.
He then served as a naval and Marine aircraft test pilot where he set another world record back in 1957. Glenn set a transcontinental air speed record on a Vought F-8 Crusader aircraft from Los Angeles to New York at supersonic speed.
At the age of 77, Glenn made another world record for being the oldest person to go to space.