Lovell remembers Glenn as mentor, 'Boy Scout of space program'

Retired Navy Capt. Jim Lovell on Thursday remembered his friend and fellow astronaut John Glenn as a contemporary who at the same time paved the way and "was always a model of what I wanted to achieve."

John Glenn, who in 1962 became the first U.S. astronaut to orbit Earth, died Thursday. The last survivor of the original Mercury 7 astronauts was 95.

Lovell, of Lake Forest, said he first met Glenn while trying out for the Mercury program, NASA's first human space flight endeavor.

While Lovell was cut from the program because of a temporarily high bilirubin count in his blood, Glenn made it and became the third American in space and the first to orbit Earth in February 1962.

Of the Mercury 7, Lovell described Glenn as "the Boy Scout of the group, the natural leader to get the program going."

The two men, who became acquainted through flying in the Navy, knew each other at a distance during their respective space careers. Later, they met occasionally when Lovell would travel to Washington, D.C., where Glenn, of Ohio, served four terms in the U.S. Senate and conducted an unsuccessful 1984 run for president.

In recent weeks, Lovell said, "I knew that he was feeling badly, that he was coming and going, but you have to remember that he lived a very good life."

Lovell says Glenn's legacy "speaks for himself."

"He was a superb aviator, he was in the (space) program at the appropriate time and added prestige to the United States ... he will be remembered for all of the ages as one of the pioneers who challenged new horizons."

• Daily Herald news services contributed to this report

Images: John Glenn, 1921-2016

Quotes from John Glenn: 'Zero-G and I feel fine.'

'Godspeed, John Glenn': Public hails hero of space, politics

John Glenn, the 1st American to orbit Earth, dies at age 95

Astronaut Jim Lovell, center, accompanied by fellow astronaut Tom Stafford, right, speaks during the ribbon cutting for the Heroes and Legends exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida last month. Associated Press File Photo
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.