The United States lost a great American hero on Thursday when John Glenn died at age 95.

Glenn's name became synonymous with manned space exploration more than 50 years ago. But before that, he proved he had the right stuff by fighting in two wars.

A combat pilot in World War II and the Korean War, Glenn flew nearly 150 missions between the two and survived even though his plane was shot up numerous times, once 250 times. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and other medals.

He went on to be an ace test pilot, then joined NASA's "Mercury Seven" and became one of America's first astronauts. 

Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth on Feb. 20, 1962, then made history as America's oldest astronaut when he returned to space at age 77 aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1998.

Between his two trips to outer space, Glenn got involved in politics. Ohio voters elected their native son to the U.S. Senate in 1974 and he held his seat until 1999.

President Obama rightly called Glenn an American icon and saluted him for all his accomplishments and his service to the country in so many arenas.

"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," Obama said Thursday.

"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."

In the same week that America celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor, Americans now must mourn a hero who helped this country rise from that infamous attack and defeat its enemies, preserving our freedom.

John Glenn's accomplishments, courage and valor were extraordinary, to be sure, and his name will remain etched in history in perpetuity.

Obama ended his tribute with "Godspeed, John Glenn."

A grateful nation echoes that sentiment and offers its condolences to his family, which included distant relatives in Hesperia.