Senator John H. Glenn Oral History Project

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The Senator John H. Glenn Oral History Project was administered by the Ohio Public Policy Archives (formerly the Ohio Congressional Archives) at The Ohio State University. The project contains the tape recordings, abstracts, and transcripts of twenty-three oral history interviews with former NASA astronaut and U.S. Senator John Glenn. Brien R. Williams, under a contract with the Glenn family, conducted the first sixteen oral history sessions from 1996 to 1998. Archivist Jeffrey W. Thomas, a former archivist for the Ohio Congressional Archives, conducted the remaining seven interviews in 2008 and 2009. Subject areas covered by the interviews follow mostly in rough chronological order from John Glenn’s childhood in New Concord, Ohio to his twenty-four years (1975-1999) in the U.S. Senate.

In addition, the project includes two oral history interviews with Mrs. Annie Glenn conducted by Brien R. Williams in 1997.

The oral history tapes, abstracts, and transcripts produced by the project are available for public use in the reading room of the Ohio State University Archives Building, 2700 Kenny Road, Columbus, Ohio 43210. Reading room hours are from 9am - 4:30pm, Monday through Friday. Although not required, researchers are advised to contact the archivist for the Ohio Public Policy Archives prior to use of the collection.

The abstracts, transcripts, and audio recordings of the oral history interviews are available in this online collection.


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Now showing 1 - 20 of 25
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    Interview of John Glenn by Jeffrey Thomas (Session 23)
    (Ohio State University, 2009-06-19) Glenn, John, 1921-2016
    Senator Glenn discusses some of the significant events that occurred during his first term in the U.S. Senate (1975-1981). In 1976, Glenn was considered as a possible vice presidential running mate for Jimmy Carter. Glenn talks about the selection process and his experience in delivering the key note address at the Democratic National Convention. Glenn goes into detail about some of the disagreements he had with President Carter over policy issues, including funding for the B1 and B2 bomber programs, the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from South Korea, and the ratification of the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT II). Glenn speaks about his first re-election campaign for his Senate seat in 1980. He won in a landslide victory during an election year where the Republican Party gained both the White House and a majority in the Senate. The size of his re-election victory, plus a surplus in campaign funds, was a factor in Glenn’s decision to run for president in 1984. Glenn states how the demographics in Ohio played a part in his decision. He felt that if the voters in such a diverse state like Ohio overwhelmingly approved of his ideas and stance on policy issues, then his candidacy would appeal to voters across the nation. Glenn cites how his disagreement with the policies and programs of the administration of President Ronald Reagan also played a major role in his decision to seek national office. He then goes into detail about the successes and failures of his presidential campaign. He states, in hindsight, he should have concentrated more on the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire, and laments the undue influence these two small states have on the selection of a presidential candidate. The number of candidates for the Democratic Party nomination in 1984 also was an issue in the primaries, especially during debates. Glenn felt he never had enough time during debates to get his views and ideas across to voters. He states he has no regrets about his decision to run for president. He enjoyed the opportunity to talk to voters about policy issues, but thoroughly disliked the amount of time he had to spend raising money to fund the campaign. Glenn points out that he left the presidential primaries $3 million in debt and goes into detail about how complicated it was to raise funds to retire the debt. Glenn ends the session by summarizing the main themes in the commencement speech he had delivered the week before to graduates of The Ohio State University. In the speech he urged graduates to "see things and say, Why," but also to "dream of things that never were and state, Why Not?" To find happiness and fulfillment in their lives graduates should "be a part of something bigger than yourself and be willing to serve others."
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    Interview of John Glenn by Jeffrey Thomas (Session 22)
    (Ohio State University, 2009-02-20) Glenn, John, 1921-2016
    Senator Glenn discusses his first impressions upon entering the U.S. Senate and talks about the assistance he received from various colleagues. He notes how the cooperation and bipartisanship prevalent during his first term in the 1970s changed by the time he retired in 1999. He states that the slowness of the political process in the Senate was frustrating at times, but he grew to appreciate the check the U.S. Senate has on hasty or ill-advised legislation. Mike Mansfield, the majority leader of the Senate, was a mentor to Glenn due, in part, because both were former Marines. Glenn talks about his membership in Senate committees and why he left the Foreign Relations Committee in 1985 for a seat on the Armed Services Committee. Glenn goes into length about the nuclear non-proliferation legislation he introduced and the successes and failures the U.S. experienced in trying to halt the spread of nuclear weapons. He cites an instance where the design for a nuclear weapon made by a graduate student in the 1980s led to a major review of the classified information being made available at the library of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Glenn goes on to talk about how officials in Pakistan flatly denied their country was developing nuclear weapons, even though the U.S. had information documenting the extent of Pakistan’s nuclear program. Paralleling his efforts in nuclear non-proliferation were Glenn’s hearings and legislation concerning the nuclear weapons facilities administered by the U.S Department of Energy. Glenn details how investigations into constituent complaints about the water quality in the area around the Feed Materials Production Center in Fernald, Ohio, near Cincinnati led to the discovery of major safety and environmental problems at nuclear weapons plants across the nation. Glenn cites how in 1998 the clean-up costs for seventeen sites in eleven states was estimated to be above $300 billion. Glenn discusses in detail the congressional delegation trip he went on in 1976 to the People’s Republic of China. Led by Mike Mansfield, the fact-finding trip lasted three weeks, during which time the delegation met with high level Chinese officials and toured factories and communes in various areas of the country. Glenn points out how congressional trips to foreign countries serve a real purpose in gathering facts and impressions that help members of Congress formulate policy. He cites as an example how a congressional delegation meeting with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was instrumental in the eventual signing of a peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. Glenn explains how, as chairman of the East Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he worked with Richard Holbrook of the State Department to formulate legislation to govern U.S. relations with Taiwan following the normalization of U.S. relations with the People’s Republic of China. He goes on to discuss the trip he took with Holbrook in 1978 as the official U.S. delegation to the ceremonies marking the independence of the Solomon Islands. The delegation took a side trip to New Guinea where Glenn visited an isolated tribe in the mountains above Papua.
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    Interview of John Glenn by Jeffrey Thomas (Session 21)
    (Ohio State University, 2009-01-13) Glenn, John, 1921-2016
    Senator Glenn discusses his business career during the 1960s and his political activities during this time period culminating with his election to the U.S. Senate in 1974. Following his Friendship 7 space flight, Glenn turned down numerous lucrative offers from corporations because he felt it was not ethical to commercialize his position within the national space program. After leaving NASA and the Marine Corps in 1964, Glenn accepted a position with Royal Crown Cola because the company did not require him to do advertising to capitalize on his name recognition. Glenn traveled extensively as the head of Royal Crown International, setting up business agreements to establish company franchises in various areas of the world. During this time period he also partnered with Henri Landwirth and others to develop a series of Holiday Inns in Florida. Glenn became friends with Henri Landwirth when Landwirth managed the hotel the Project Mercury astronauts stayed at near Cape Canaveral. A business venture to build and run a Holiday Inn near the campus of the Ohio State University proved unprofitable. Glenn cites his years in the corporate world as informative and helpful training for his later career in the U.S. Senate. In 1967, Glenn participated in the television program, "Great Explorations," in which he traced the route through Africa made in 1871 by Sir Henry Stanley in his search for Dr. David Livingston. He goes into length about this trip and the "great fun" he had during the filming of the documentary. Glenn discusses his friendship and political activities with Robert F. Kennedy. He mentions visits to the Kennedy home at Hickory Hill and vacation trips to Idaho. He also offers anecdotes that provide insights into Kennedy’s philosophy towards life and friendship. In 1968, Glenn had an active role in Kennedy’s presidential campaign. Glenn explains his various duties during the campaign and provides details and anecdotes about Kennedy as a political campaigner. He speaks at length about the night Kennedy was shot in Los Angeles and the events immediately following Kennedy’s death. Glenn and his wife, Annie, traveled with the Kennedy children from Los Angeles back to the Kennedy home, where Glenn undertook the heartrending task of informing the children of their father’s death. Glenn recounts some of his own political activities in Ohio during the early 1970s. In 1970, he ran and lost against Howard Metzenbaum in the Democratic primary election for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Subsequently, during the next four years he traveled to most Democratic Party events in Ohio and "…as we joked about it, went to every rubber chicken and 22 caliber pea dinner in the State of Ohio and got to know all the party leaders and the people at the local level." In 1974, Glenn again ran against Metzenbaum in the primary, but this time won the primary and went on to gain a seat in the U.S. Senate by winning the general election. He speaks about how his "Gold Star Mother Speech" given at the Cleveland City Club debate just prior to the primary was a major factor in his winning the election. Glenn also recounts his relationship with Ohio Governor John J. Gilligan, going into some length about the pressure Gilligan and other Ohio Democratic Party officials placed on him to run for Lieutenant Governor in 1974. In 1970, Governor Gilligan appointed Glenn to chair the Citizens Task Force on Environmental Protection. Work done by the task force led to the formation of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
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    Interview of John Glenn by Jeffrey Thomas (Session 20)
    (Ohio State University, 2008-10-20) Glenn, John, 1921-2016
    Senator Glenn discusses his work with NASA following the Friendship 7 space flight, and his decision to enter politics in 1964. He summarizes his various assignments with NASA after his orbital flight in 1962, which included the design of the instrument panel for the Apollo spacecraft, acting as an unofficial liaison with Congress, and manning a listening post during the space flight of Gordon Cooper. Glenn goes into length about the goodwill trips he took for NASA to Japan in 1963 and to various countries in Europe in 1965 and again in 1966. He explains how he lobbied with the NASA officials for another space flight, but was only offered a position as manager of the astronaut training program. He did not learn until years later that NASA’s reluctance to assign him to another mission was due to a request by President John F. Kennedy not to put Glenn on another space flight. Not being given another space flight was a major factor in Glenn’s decision to leave NASA in 1964. Glenn explains in detail why he decided to run for a seat in the U.S. Senate during the primary elections in 1964. He discusses his relationship with President John F. Kennedy and the president’s brother, Robert F. Kennedy, and their influence on his decision to enter politics. He provides details about the support he received from some Ohio politicians in setting up a campaign organization and discusses the Hatch Act restrictions he had to campaign under since he was still an officer in the Marine Corps. Some details are provided about his relationship with the Ohio Democratic Party and the reaction to his campaign by his opponent in the primary, incumbent Senator Steve Young. He addresses the criticism he received by some people for leaving NASA for politics by paraphrasing Dwight D. Eisenhower, "…one of the greatest mistakes of his life was getting into politics at all and running for President, because he lost, the day he declared, he lost 50% of the people of the country in support." Glenn explains how an accident that left him bedridden with severe vertigo forced him to withdraw from the campaign prior to the primary election. He mentions how he ran again, unsuccessfully, for a Senate seat in 1970, but finally succeeded in gaining office by winning the 1974 campaign. Also discussed at some length is the project Glenn undertook during his medical rehabilitation to compile exerts from the various letters he received after his 1962 space flight. The exerts were published in a book titled, P.S. I Listened to Your Heartbeat: Letters to John Glenn.
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    Interview of John Glenn by Jeffrey Thomas (Session 19)
    (Ohio State University, 2008-05-23) Glenn, John, 1921-2016
    Senator Glenn discusses his orbital space flight of February 20, 1962 aboard the Friendship 7 spacecraft. He states how being the back-up astronaut for the sub-orbital flights of Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom helped prepare him for his own mission. The space race with the Soviet Union had some influence on the decision to make his mission an orbital space flight. He provides details about the numerous delays experienced prior to the actual space flight and goes into some length about an incident during one of the delays involving his wife, Annie Glenn, and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. Glenn explains why the Mercury astronauts named their spacecraft and how his children picked out the name Friendship 7. Technical aspects regarding problems with the Atlas booster rocket are discussed, as well as the engineering redesigns introduced to alleviate these problems. Glenn details the physical sensations experienced during liftoff and notes the abruptness of encountering weightlessness upon entering into space. Prolonged exposure to zero gravity did not result in any of the negative affects to his body as feared by some scientists, such as loss of vision and severe vertigo. Glenn goes into detail about his efforts to procure a hand-held camera and how he used the camera to take photographs during the space flight. Many of the tasks planned for the space flight were curtailed due to the failure of the spacecraft’s automatic control system. Glenn provides some technical details about this failure and how he manually guided the spacecraft during much of the flight. He also explains how a false signal indicating a loose heat shield led to the decision not to jettison the retrorocket pack prior to reentry. Details about his reentry, recovery at sea, and subsequent debriefings are provided. Glenn then speaks about the reunion with his family at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida, the parade from the air base to Cape Canaveral, and the ceremonies there with President John F. Kennedy. He provides an anecdote concerning his speech to a joint session of Congress and points out how he and his family were not prepared for the overwhelming national and international acclaim accorded him. He notes how he insisted that all the Mercury astronauts be included in the New York City tickertape parade and how much he enjoyed the parade in his hometown of New Concord, Ohio. Some details also are provided about the amount of mail he received after the space flight and the efforts made by NASA to answer all this mail.
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    Interview of John Glenn by Jeffrey Thomas (Session 18)
    (Ohio State University, 2008-04-21) Glenn, John, 1921-2016
    Senator Glenn discusses the selection process for, and the early training of, astronauts in NASA’s Project Mercury program. In 1957, during his assignment at the U.S. Navy’s Bureau of Aeronautics in Washington, D.C., Glenn volunteered to participate in a study of orbital flight and re-entry being conducted by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) using a space flight simulator located at Langley Air Force Base. This study of orbital flight was "very elementary," but led directly to the work conducted in later years after the NACA became the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Glenn volunteered for NASA’s space program because he thought the assignment would be interesting and important. He felt his combat record and his work as a test pilot more than qualified him, plus he had the backing of his family. Glenn provides some details about the selection process NASA put volunteer test pilots through, including the medical testing done at the Lovelace Clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico and the psychological testing conducted at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. He mentions a few anecdotes that occurred during the testing, and talks in length about his reaction to being placed for hours in an isolation chamber. He points out how his selection as one of the original Mercury astronauts was due in large part to the efforts of one of his former commanding officers, Colonel Jack Dill, who persuaded the selection board not to eliminate Glenn because of his lack of a college degree. Glenn briefly explains the rivalry that existed between the NASA manned space program and the program being run by the U.S. Air Force at Edwards Air Force Base. He speaks about his and his family’s reaction when he was selected as a Mercury astronaut and describes how the Mercury astronauts dealt with the overwhelming media coverage given to them. He goes into some length about the selection of Leo DeOrsey as the astronauts’ agent and the contract they made with Life magazine for their personal stories. Details about the astronauts’ initial training are provided, including descriptions of survival training in desert and jungle environments. Glenn also discusses the astronauts’ close working relationship with NASA administrators and engineers and how each astronaut had a specific program assignment. He explains various technical details about the "ballistic flight" that occurred when a Mercury spacecraft re-entered the atmosphere and how this flight was controlled. Glenn also provides details about how he and other astronauts tested the effects of extremely high G forces on the human body using a 50-foot-arm centrifuge located in Johnsville, Pennsylvania.
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    Interview of John Glenn by Jeffrey Thomas (Session 17)
    (Ohio State University, 2008-03-07) Glenn, John, 1921-2016
    Senator Glenn discusses his duties as a desk officer at the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics and his Project Bullet record setting transcontinental flight in July 1957. Following his assignment as a test pilot at the Navy Air Test Center in Patuxent River, Maryland, Glenn was transferred to the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics in Washington, D.C. His duties as a desk officer involved the implementation of the engineering changes requested for aircraft undergoing testing at the Navy Air Test Center. These duties required many meetings to reconcile the number of change requests with the budget allocated for a particular aircraft program. Glenn also traveled a great deal to the various plants of such aircraft manufacturers as Chance Vought, Douglas, North American, and Grumman. During this time period, Glenn conceived the idea of using the Chance Vought F8U Crusader jet aircraft to establish a new speed record for a transcontinental flight from Los Angeles to New York. Glenn flew this new Crusader aircraft while a test pilot and continued with its development while at the Bureau of Aeronautics. After talking about his idea with various engineers at Chance Vought and at Pratt and Whitney, the maker of the airplane’s engine, Glenn won approval for the project from his superiors at the Bureau of Aeronautics. The record setting attempt would be used to test the endurance of the aircraft’s engine. The flight was named "Project Bullet" because the transcontinental flight would average supersonic speeds exceeding the rate of a bullet fired from a .45 caliber pistol. Glenn provides many details about the planning and logistics involved in the flight, including an account about the crash of a tanker aircraft during a practice mid-air refueling. Details also are provided about the flight itself, with an emphasis on the three mid-air refuelings required to travel from coast to coast. He recounts an anecdote about what happened when his aircraft caused a sonic boom while travelling over his hometown of New Concord, Ohio. The flight broke the transcontinental record by more than twenty minutes and resulted in major media attention for the U.S. Navy and for Glenn. One consequence of the record-setting flight was an invitation for Glenn to appear of the television game show "Name That Tune." Glenn and child actor, Eddie Hodges appeared on the program for five straight weeks and split the grand prize winnings of $25,000.
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    Interview of John Glenn by Brien Williams (Session 16)
    (Ohio State University, 1998-03-27) Glenn, John, 1921-2016
    Senator Glenn discusses the Korean War Memorial in Washington, DC and his activities as a test pilot at the Naval Air Test Station in Patuxent River, Maryland. Glenn characterizes the Korean War as the "forgotten war." He carries his own memorial to the war in his memories, but supported the building of the Korean War Memorial "to remind future generations that we have a history and a heritage and a dedication to country…" He provides some details about the efforts, led by Marine General Ray Davis, to establish the memorial on the National Mall. Glenn hosted many of the planning meetings for the memorial in his Senate office. Included is an anecdote about why three of the soldier statues in the memorial have the chinstraps to their helmets buckled. Glenn also comments about the need for continued maintenance for the memorial. The interview continues with a discussion about Glenn’s activities following the end of the Korean War. He talks briefly about an R&R trip he took to Hong Kong. While in Korea in late 1953, Glenn applied for test pilot school, was accepted, and transferred to the school at Patuxent River, Maryland in January 1954. The six-month test pilot course was rigorous academically, with an emphasis on higher mathematics, for which Glenn had to teach himself calculus. After graduation Glenn was assigned to "armament test" at the Naval Air Test Station. This assignment entailed test firing a variety of weapons mounted on the newly-designed aircraft being tested at the station. Glenn provides many details about this duty and recounts a number of incidents that occurred while testing various weapons. In one incident, he describes how the "Cutts compensators" mounted on the ends of the four 20 millimeter cannons on his aircraft malfunctioned and destroyed the aircraft’s engine.
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    Interview of John Glenn by Brien Williams (Session 15)
    (Ohio State University, 1998-03-23) Glenn, John, 1921-2016
    Senator Glenn discusses his temporary assignment flying fighters with the U.S. Air Force from May to July 1953 during the Korean War. He talks briefly about the public perception of the Korean War and contrasts it with World War II and the Vietnam War. He explains his reasons for volunteering for combat duty. In late April 1953, he volunteered and was accepted into a pilot exchange program with the U.S. Air Force. Transferred to the 25th Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the 51st Interceptor Wing, he flew F-86 Sabre fighter jets out of the K-13 airfield located near Suwan. The squadron’s missions involved patrolling along the Yalu River separating North Korea from China. The objective was to stop North Korean MiG jets based at airfields in China from flying south to interrupt U.S. aircraft flying ground support missions. Glenn provides many details about the tactics used and the difficulties faced by pilots flying these interceptor missions. While flying these missions he shot down three MiGs jets. Glenn describes how he had to chase the first MiG jet he shot down all the way to its airfield in China. He explains the complexity of air-to-air combat with jet fighters in the days prior to modern advanced weaponry. One mission when his squadron commander, John Girando, was shot down by antiaircraft while Glenn was flying as his wingman is recounted in detail. While waiting for rescue helicopters, Glenn circled the area into where Girando parachuted until he ran out of fuel, which necessitated gliding one hundred miles and landing safely without power. Glenn states this particular mission was "one of the wildest days of flying that I ever had." Glenn relates how after the signing of the truce ending the war, he met Girando when he was released as a prisoner of war and learned what happened to Girando after he was captured.
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    Interview of John Glenn by Brien Williams (Session 14)
    (Ohio State University, 1998-03-13) Glenn, John, 1921-2016
    Senator Glenn discusses his combat experience during the Korean War as a U.S. Marine Corps fighter/bomber pilot. He provides some details about his efforts to gain a transfer into a combat squadron in Korea. The Korean War was the focus of the military at this time and he wanted to make use of all of his training in a combat situation. After months of requesting a combat assignment, Glenn was sent to Korea in February 1953 as the operations officer in Marine fighter squadron VMF-311. The squadron flew F9-F Panther jet fighter/bombers out of the K-3 airfield located at Pohang on the east coast of Korea. By this time in the war the front lines had stabilized and the squadron flew mainly low-level missions in support of the ground forces of the First Marine Division. Many of these missions involved dropping napalm bombs on enemy trench positions close to the front lines. The squadron also flew "interdiction missions" deep into North Korean territory. These missions involved bombing and strafing transportation related targets, such as railroads and bridges, and troop staging areas and supply depots. The squadron became experts in blowing up bridges by targeting the bridge abutments. Glenn provides many details about how these missions were planned and executed. Antiaircraft fire was a major concern for the pilots due to the amount possessed by the North Koreans and their expertise in using these weapons. Glenn discusses in length two missions in which his airplane took major hits by antiaircraft fire. Baseball star Ted Williams, who had been called into active duty from the Marine Corps Reserves, was a member of the squadron. Williams flew many missions as Glenn’s wingman. Glenn provides a number of anecdotes about the missions Williams flew.
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    Interview of John Glenn by Brien Williams (Session 13)
    (Ohio State University, 1997-06-23) Glenn, John, 1921-2016
    Senator Glenn provides an update to the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee’s investigation into campaign financing. Glenn states the investigation had "reached such a ridiculous state of affairs on lack of cooperation" that he arranged for a one-on-one meeting with the committee’s chairman, Fred Thompson, to try to iron out disagreements. Going into the meeting Glenn had three items up for discussion: to get beyond the issue of subpoenas, how many were issued by the majority versus how many for the minority, and concentrate on known areas of campaign finance abuses; cooperation in the gathering of information; and the role of the minority committee members during the upcoming hearings. He states "that meeting with Thompson came to nothing." Glenn responds to charges in the news media that the Democratic Party was trying to delay the hearings by detailing how the committee minority does not have the power to implement such a delay. He discusses a compromise solution put forth by Senators Arlen Specter and Carl Levin turned down during a meeting of the full committee. He states there still was major disagreement on the issue of granting immunity to certain potential hearing witnesses before these people were screened by the FBI and the Justice Department. He provides further details on the case of foreign money being given to the Republican Party through the National Policy Forum and points out the difficulties involved in obtaining the organization’s records or the records of its director, Haley Barber. He reiterates his opinion that Chairman Thompson went into the investigation with good intentions, "but he's been so hemmed in by his Republican leadership. What they want to make this into is a Republican investigation of Democrats." Glenn voices his disappointment and chagrin in regards to editorials and articles about the investigation written by David Broder and Morton Kondrake. Senator Glenn also discusses his participation in an upcoming congressional delegation to Hong Kong to witness the ceremonies marking the return of the territory to China. He expresses his opinion that the ceremonies are not the correct venue for the United States to protest plans by the Chinese to change the composition and membership of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council.
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    Interview of John Glenn by Brien Williams (Session 12)
    (Ohio State University, 1997-06-09) Glenn, John, 1921-2016
    Senator Glenn provides an update about the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee’s investigation into campaign finance reform. He expresses frustration about the fairness of the process involved in submitting and voting on subpoenas. To date, the Republican majority on the committee submitted and approved 142 subpoenas, whereas the committee approved only 18 of the 43 submitted by the Democratic minority. Glenn notes how the committee chairman, Fred Thompson, early on agreed with Glenn about using the hearings to gather information in order to formulate legislation that would provide for substantial reforms in campaign financing. Glenn expresses the opinion that Chairman Thompson was being undermined by the leadership of the Republican Party. These leaders see no need for changes in the present system because the Republican Party, at that time, was raising twice as much campaign funding as the Democrats. He provides details about the lack of cooperation received from various Republican Party organizations subpoenaed by the committee, such as the National Policy Forum, Americans for Tax Reform, and the Triad. He notes the lack of documents turned over to the committee by these organizations and how most documents sent in were heavily redacted. He points out the pattern forming when committee staff try to interview people from Republican organizations. A scheduled time for the interview would be cancelled at the last minute. It is his opinion that the committee should issue contempt citations to these organizations if the interviews are not conducted in a timely manner. Glenn discusses how he works with the leadership of the Senate Democrats in devising the minority strategy for the hearings. Many Senate Democrats want to demonstrate their anger over the way the Republican majority is handling the investigations by boycotting the hearings, an option Glenn is against. He details how any contact with the White House regarding the hearings is done through the committee counsel. At present, his main concern is whether or not he can gather the background information needed for the hearings.
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    Interview of John Glenn by Brien Williams (Session 11)
    (Ohio State University, 1997-05-12) Glenn, John, 1921-2016
    Senator Glenn discusses his duty assignments from 1948 to just prior to his combat tour in the Korean War in 1953. Following his return from overseas duty in China and Guam, Glenn was assigned as an instructor at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas. To his surprise, he spent the first three months at Corpus Christi as the officer in charge of the night shore patrol. This assignment entailed picking up military service members who got into trouble while on leave in Corpus Christi. Glenn characterizes his duties as a shore patrol officer as interesting, but not the type of job for which he would have volunteered. He describes several amusing incidents and a large drunken brawl that sailors were involved in during this time period. After his three months on shore patrol duty, Glenn went through instructor training to prepare him to be a flight instructor for aviation cadets. After completing the training taught by the Instructors’ Advanced Training Unit, Glenn was asked to join the unit rather than become a regular flight cadet instructor. While with the IATU, Glenn helped formulate the syllabus for training flight instructors about the standards set by the Navy for teaching aviation cadets how to fly. He provides details about how his idea of comparing instructor training given by the Air Force to that given by the Navy resulted in his temporary assignment to the Air Force. This temporary assignment resulted in his first certification to fly jet aircraft. While stationed at Corpus Christi, Glenn applied for and was accepted in a three-month course at the Naval School of All-Weather Flight. The course taught pilots how to fly using only the instruments on the aircraft. Graduation from the course earned pilots a much coveted "green card" that qualified them to fly aircraft regardless of weather conditions. After graduating from the course, Glenn was asked to transfer to the school as an instructor. In July 1951, Glenn was assigned to the junior course of the Advanced Amphibious Warfare School at Quantico, Virginia. The course taught all aspects of the organization, tactics, and logistics of ground warfare and amphibious landings. After graduating from the course, Glenn was assigned to the staff of the commanding general of the Marine base at Quantico, an assignment he did not particularly care for since it did not involve flying. Glenn mentions how at that time Marine aviators were looked down upon by some ground force officers. He discusses the options open for him at that time as a career officer in the Marines, and how various assignments, such as the amphibious warfare course, were required for advancement and promotion. While on the general staff at Quantico, Glenn continually applied for a transfer to combat duty in the Korean War. He finally received orders in October 1952 to report to Cherry Point, North Carolina for jet aircraft training in preparation for a transfer to Korea. Also discussed are living conditions at Quantico, various social activities and family matters, and his long-standing friendship with other Marine aviators from his World War II squadron, such as Tom Miller, Tom Collins, and Dick Rainforth.
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    Interview of John Glenn by Brien Williams (Session 10)
    (Ohio State University, 1997-04-28) Glenn, John, 1921-2016
    Senator Glenn discusses his post-World War II duty assignments in the United States, China, and Guam during the years 1946 to 1948. In late 1945, following his temporary assignment at the Naval Air Test Center at Patuxent River, Maryland, Glenn returned to the Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point, North Carolina. He was assigned to VMF-913, a holding squadron for pilots returning from overseas assignments and for those leaving at the end of their military service. The squadron had too many pilots and not enough ground mechanics, so there were difficulties in keeping enough aircraft in commission for any meaningful training. In March 1946, Glenn was transferred to squadron VMF-323 based out of El Toro, California. The squadron flew to numerous air shows in the state of California, events Glenn scheduled as part of his duties as the squadron’s operations officer. Glenn volunteered for a transfer to a squadron stationed outside of Peking, China, for an overseas assignment he thought would last three to six months, but ended up lasting two years. The squadron in China flew support missions for the teams under the command of General George Marshall trying to negotiate peace between the Nationalists and the Communists. Glenn provides details about their mission and describes the country as "Old China" at that time. He offers various anecdotes about life in the Chinese capital, including a visit to the home of the squadron’s "houseboy." He notes the poverty and hunger prevalent in the country and recounts illustrative incidents, such as the appearance of relief food supplies distributed in the country on the black markets within Peking and the selling of the garbage from the air base’s mess hall. The squadron escorted the trains evacuating General Marshall’s peace teams as they traveled from Peking to the port of Chin-Huang-Tao in the spring of 1947. Planes from the squadron then flew to Shanghai, from where they eventually flew to Okinawa. Glenn details how, while in Shanghai for two weeks waiting on clear weather, he went along with members of the U.S. Navy’s Criminal Investigation Division as they patrolled the various bars and opium dens along the Shanghai waterfront. After leaving China, the squadron was stationed in Guam, where Glenn was assigned as the squadron’s operations officer, the duties of which Glenn summarizes. Various stories about life on Guam are given, including the efforts by the Marine officers to have their families, including Glenn’s own, brought out to live on Guam. The session ends with an account of the Glenn family’s return voyage through rough weather from Guam to San Francisco on a Military Sea Transport Service ship.
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    Interview of John Glenn by Brien Williams (Session 9)
    (Ohio State University, 1997-04-18) Glenn, John, 1921-2016
    Senator Glenn discusses the upcoming hearings by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee on campaign finance reform brought about by alleged abuses during the 1996 presidential elections. He provides background information concerning the increased costs of political campaigns driven by the need to use television advertising to reach voters. He laments this rise in campaign costs, and states how "going out hat in hand trying to get money to run a political campaign is the most onerous thing in politics." He talks about some of the fund-raising practices brought to light during and after the presidential campaign, such as the overnight stays in the White House used by the Democrats and political access in exchange for campaign contributions used by the Republicans. Glenn states his opinion that using federal and state monies to finance political campaigns would help end abuses. Glenn details how the hearings on campaign finance reform were given to the jurisdiction of the Governmental Affairs Committee through the efforts of the Senate Majority Leader, Trent Lott. He recounts his initial discussions concerning the hearings with the committee chairman, Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee. As the ranking minority member of the Governmental Affairs Committee, Glenn wanted to use the hearings to gather information on the larger problems of campaign financing in general, rather than just focus on alleged abuses by President William Clinton’s re-election campaign or misdeeds by the campaign of the Republican challenger, Robert Dole. Glenn presents a chronology, up to the April 18th date of the oral history interview, of the negotiations between himself and Senator Thompson on such issues as the scope of the committee’s investigations, the funding allocated by Congress for the hearings, and the number of subpoenas submitted and issued by the committee’s Republican majority as compared to the number allowed for the Democratic minority. He ends by stating how abuses in campaign financing erode the trust in government held by the general public and furthers people’s feelings of cynicism and apathy towards the political process in America.
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    Interview of John Glenn by Brien Williams (Session 8)
    (Ohio State University, 1997-04-07) Glenn, John, 1921-2016
    Senator Glenn summarizes the factors behind his decision not to run for a fifth term in the United States Senate in 1998. Saying, "There is no cure for the common birthday" Glenn states his age (77) and the fact he would be 83-years-old at the end of a fifth term as the major factor in his decision not to seek re-election. He discusses the lack of bipartisanship and civility in the Senate, an issue that has led other Senators to retire. He traces the rise of incivility and party rancor in Congress and cites examples of how practices by the Democratic Party, particularly in the House of Representatives, share the blame for the current lack of bipartisanship. Glenn talks about the timing of his retirement announcement and how prospective candidates for his seat in the Senate need at least a year to raise funds and organize an effective campaign. He then goes into why he decided to make his retirement announcement at Brown Chapel on the campus of Muskingum College in his hometown of New Concord, Ohio. Stating "That’s where my whole career really did start," Glenn details how he heard a radio broadcast about the bombing of Pearl Harbor on his way to Brown Chapel to listen to Annie Glenn’s senior organ recital. His decision to drop out of college and join the military to fight in World War II changed the direction of his and Annie’s life. Glenn discusses his retirement speech and the points he wanted to make to the college students in the audience. He describes the importance of public service to the well-being of the country and laments the cynicism and apathy towards politics shown by young people. He states how he plans to work with students after his retirement from the Senate in an effort to reverse these negative opinions. Glenn describes his philosophy in life, citing three characteristics in people that provide for a satisfying and productive life: exercising your own talents to the greatest extent possible, working for some purpose greater than yourself, and doing something specifically for others less fortunate than yourself.
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    Interview of John Glenn by Brien Williams (Session 7)
    (Ohio State University, 1997-02-10) Glenn, John, 1921-2016
    Senator Glenn summarizes his experiences during World War II. He states that in comparison to later wars, the vast majority of Americans supported the war because the enemy had territorial ambitions. He talks about his patriotic feelings towards the war effort and what he describes as his God-given talents that led him to become a successful fighter pilot. He discusses the fatalism of some fighter pilots during the war, which leads into a discussion about the concept of predestination as taught by some fundamentalist Presbyterian teachings. Glenn goes on to talk about his assignment to the Navy Air Test Center at Patuxent River, Maryland after his return from overseas duty. Former combat pilots were assigned to the test center to put as many flight hours as possible, in as little time as possible, on new, experimental aircraft. Glenn talks about the enjoyment he had in flying a variety of new, high-performance aircraft and offers a number of stories about what happened to various pilots and aircraft during his approximately three-month assignment at the test center.
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    Interview of John Glenn by Brien Williams (Session 6)
    (Ohio State University, 1997-02-07) Glenn, John, 1921-2016
    Senator Glenn describes the place and his activities when he heard that Pearl Harbor was attacked. He was driving to the chapel at Muskingum College to hear Annie (Castor) Glenn’s organ recital. After discussing the idea of going into the armed forces with Annie and his parents, he enlisted as an aviation cadet into first the Army, then later into the Navy. His father was proud of his service with the Ohio 37th Division in Europe during World War I, but rarely discussed his experiences in the war. In New Concord, patriotism was assumed, not debated. Early experiences after his enlistment are described in previous interviews. Glenn talks about how the trip from San Diego to Hawaii on a troop transport was not a pleasant experience due to crowded conditions, poor food, and the lack of an antisubmarine escort after the first few days. Details are provided about the living conditions the squadron had at Midway and in the Marshall Islands, where they had little, if any, contact with the natives. The censorship of mail is discussed, along with how much contact the squadron had with the outside world. Glenn tells two stories to illustrate the fighter pilot mentality, how "any fighter pilot, real fighter pilot, that doesn't believe that he's about as good or better than anybody else in the air had better get out of the business." He describes a typical day during combat operations in the Marshall Islands, including briefings, take-off and rendezvous, mission, return and landing, and debriefing. Glenn emphasizes the importance of navigation and provides details on how "dead-reckoning" navigation was used. The use of napalm bombs is described, including one mission by the squadron that Glenn led due to the absence of the commanding and executive officers. Leading the squadron boosted Glenn’s confidence in his abilities, especially since "the intelligence information later indicated that we had burned out that particular island." Also described are "oxygen hop" training flights where pilots flew up to maximum altitude to learn how the Corsair functioned in the thinner air located at these higher altitudes. Several flight related terms, such as "dead-stick" and "flame-out," are defined. Glenn relates how the personnel in his squadron were a cross section of the country.
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    Interview of John Glenn by Brien Williams (Session 5)
    (Ohio State University, 1997-01-16) Glenn, John, 1921-2016
    Senator Glenn describes the diversions from training when his squadron was stationed in El Centro, California prior to being shipped overseas, including rabbit hunting, swimming, and a ski trip. His squadron, VFO-155, left San Diego on a former banana boat that had been converted into a troop transport. After spending a few days at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the squadron went to Midway Island for a few months of duty and further training. Glenn describes patrol missions and training accidents that happened during this time, the burial of a pilot at sea, and the emotions involved in losing a good friend. Midway was used as a submarine base. When submarines were in port for refitting and repairs the Marine aviators took the submariners on flights in two-seat training aircraft. The submariners, in turn, took the Marines on test runs in their submarines. Glenn provides an anecdote about the time he was on the U.S.S. Barb during one such test run when the seal around the periscope broke. Glenn points out how later in the war the U.S.S. Barb sank a Japanese aircraft carrier in Tokyo Harbor. A diversion for the Marines on Midway Island was watching albatross (gooney-birds) fly and raise young. After four months on Midway Island, Glenn’s Marine squadron was posted to Majuro in the Marshall Islands. Glenn describes combat missions to bomb and strafe atolls in the island chain occupied by the Japanese, but bypassed by the American campaign up through the Pacific. He goes into detail about operations against the islands of the Mili, Jaluit, and Maloelap Atolls. His squadron usually flew low-level strafing runs against antiaircraft positions while another squadron flew dive bombing sorties. At times his squadron would be divided between strafing and bombing aircraft. He also describes the use of newly-developed napalm bombs against Japanese targets and the damage done by antiaircraft fire to his F4F Corsair aircraft on five missions. Later during its overseas tour, VFO-155 moved to airfields in the Kwajalein Atoll, first to the airfield at Roi-Namur. Glenn describes how his squadron flew to Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands for operations against the island of Nauru. These missions entailed long-distance flights over water and required the use of an external drop fuel tank. Also described is the use of dead-reckoning navigation when flying from island to island. Glenn provides anecdotes about time spent exploring former battlefield sites on Tarawa. After serving his one-year overseas combat tour, Glenn was posted to the Naval Air Test Center at Patuxent River, Maryland, where he was stationed when the war ended. Glenn provides some details about his duties as a test pilot. In 1946, Glenn volunteered for overseas duty with VMF-218, a Marine fighter squadron based at Nan Yuan Field outside the Chinese capital of Peking. The squadron flew daily missions protecting the teams under the command of General George Marshall trying to establish peace between the communist and nationalist forces.
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    Interview of John Glenn by Brien Williams (Session 4)
    (Ohio State University, 1996-12-12) Glenn, John, 1921-2016
    After discussing his college experiences and life in New Concord, Ohio, Senator Glenn describes his training as a pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. He details some of the social customs in New Concord, Ohio during the 1930s and 1940s. The churches and the school were the centers of activities. Many citizens did not approve of dancing, alcohol use, and smoking. School clubs and sports were scheduled for several evenings each week. Church activities occurred on Sundays and Wednesday evenings. The "world" was mainly New Concord, though newspapers and radio kept people informed about current events. After his orbital space flight in 1962, the high school was named for him. John’s parents and Annie’s parents were good friends before the children were born. John and Annie played as small children together and began "going steady" in high school. Senator Glenn’s father had a plumbing business and later on an "associate" Chevrolet dealership. His mother helped in the plumbing store and enjoyed reciting poetry. After volunteering for military service following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Senator Glenn went to flight school as a naval aviation cadet. After transferring to the Marine Corps and graduating from flight school, Glenn was originally assigned to a transport squadron, but managed to get transferred to a fighter squadron based in El Centro outside of San Diego, California. He describes the difficulty in finding housing for married officers. He goes into detail about training with the old F-6F Hellcat fighter and later on with the new F-4U Corsair fighter. He describes practice gunnery and bombing flights and the importance of properly sighting-in the aircraft’s guns. Glenn makes several comparisons between the technology of World War II and that used during the Korean War and afterwards, such as manually cranked landing gear, radios, propeller control, pressurized G-suits, ejection seats, and parachutes. He emphasizes his pride in the being in the Marine Corps and cites as an example a question he asked his first squadron commander while in training for combat in the Pacific – "What makes Marines any better than anybody else?" To which his commander replies, "Marine training makes every Marine more afraid of letting his buddy down than he is of getting hurt himself." Glenn expands upon this answer by describing examples of this maxim during his flight training. He also provides anecdotes on social activities taking place in the evenings and on weekends.