Glenn had tested air­craft at Patux­ent River NAS

Cou­ple briefly owned a home in Town Creek

Maryland Independent - - News - By JA­SON BAB­COCK jbab­cock@somd­news.com

As­tro­naut and for­mer se­na­tor John Glenn Jr. died last Thurs­day at the age of 95. He was the third Amer­i­can in space and the first Amer­i­can to or­bit the earth in 1962.

Glenn and his fam­ily lived in Lex­ing­ton Park for a few years in the 1950s when he was test- ing air­craft at Patux­ent River Naval Air Sta­tion. He re­turned to St. Mary’s County on sev­eral occa- sions, in­clud­ing on his bid to be­come pres­i­dent of the United States.

Glenn first ar­rived at Pax River in 1945, just two years af­ter the Navy in­stal­la­tion opened. There, he was pro­moted to cap­tain in the Ma­rine Corps.

In his 1999 mem­oir, Glenn wrote of his time at the base: “An­nie and I lived in an old ho­tel called the Seven Gables. Down at the heels and not air-con­di­tioned, it sat at the edge of the river … We called the place ‘Seven Sta­bles.’”

The Seven Gables ho­tel was on Patux­ent Beach Road where the Boa­tel Cal­i­for­nia is today. Built in the 1920s, the ho­tel was torn down in 1990.

“My job at Pax River, with a num­ber of other ex­pe­ri­enced com­bat pi­lots just back from over- seas, was to put new fighter and at­tack planes through their ex­pected hours of ser­vice life as fast as pos­si­ble. We were not eval­u­at­ing planes, we were fly­ing them — hard,” Glenn wrote.

“The war in Europe ended while we were at Pax River,” he wrote. “The cel­e­bra­tions were sub­dued around the base be­cause the Ja­panese were still fight­ing hard … and Amer­i­can sol­diers, sailors and Marines were still dy­ing. The pi­lots at Pax River knew the war wasn’t over for us ei­ther. We felt a re­spon­si­bil­ity for the new crop of planes that was go­ing out to the Pa­cific.”

Glenn was next or- dered to Cherry Point Ma­rine Corps Air Sta­tion in North Carolina.

Glenn re­turned to Pax River in Jan­uary 1954 as a mem­ber of the U.S. Naval Test Pi­lot School Class 12 and grad­u­ated in July. The Glenns moved into an apart­ment in Lex- in­g­ton Park and later into a house in Town Creek Manor.

“An­nie and I had kept our love of the wa­ter and wa­ter sports. It turned out that our in­let was a mud flat at low tide. But there was a good ski­ing beach about half a mile away, so I bought the boat any­way,” Glenn wrote.

At Town Creek, he said his so­cial cir­cle was other pi­lots and their wives.

The Glenn’s home was at today’s 45886 Pine Road in the Town Creek neigh­bor­hood, ac­cord­ing to land records.

“So life at Pax River, out­side the daily busi­ness of fill­ing in the en­ve­lope up in the air, was pretty nor­mal,” Glenn wrote.

Though they lived in Town Creek, the Glenns’ chil­dren, Dave and Lyn, at­tended Hol­ly­wood El­e­men­tary School. Town Creek El­e­men­tary School did not open un­til 1959.

The En­ter­prise news­pa­per of Nov. 22, 1956, car­ried a so­cial col­umn en­try about a “sur­prise farewell” party at the home of Cmdr. A.O. Mor­ton for the Glenns, who were leav­ing the area.

But Glenn would re­turn to St. Mary’s County on sev­eral oc­ca­sions for vis­its over the years. Serv­ing as a se­na­tor rep­re­sent­ing Ohio for from 1974 to 1999, Glenn also ran for pres­i­dent in the 1984 Demo­cratic pri­mary.

In Au­gust 1983, Glenn cam­paigned in Me­chan­icsville at an event held by then-Con­gress­man Roy Dyson. Dyson said of Glenn at the event, “We have just the fel­low that can carry those bags to the curb of 1600 Penn­syl­va­nia Av­enue.”

Glenn said of the Ron­ald Rea­gan pres­i­dency, “In­stead of pre­serv­ing our present val­ues this ad­min­is­tra­tion is erod­ing them.” Wal­ter Mon­dale won the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion, but Rea­gan eas­ily won a sec­ond term.

In 1986, 250 new town­homes for Patux­ent River NAS per­son­nel opened up on Wil­lows Road in Lex­ing­ton Park, called Glenn For­est — named af­ter Glenn.

In 2005, a schol­ar­ship called the John Glenn Squadron was es­tab­lished at Patux­ent River NAS for South­ern Mary- land high school stu­dents study­ing in sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing or math de­grees.

Bob Schaller of Leonard­town, when he was the di­rec­tor of the St. Mary’s County De­part- ment of Eco­nomic and Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment, met Glenn twice lo­cally in 2011.

Schaller said Glenn was “very, very gra­cious and ap­proach­able.” Glenn au­to­graphed Schaller’s First Na­tional Bank of St. Mary’s ball cap, and Schaller gave him an­other one.

The Glenns “were just so fond of St. Mary’s County, as many peo­ple say that who have come here,” Schaller said.

Sen. Bar­bara Mikulksi (D-Md.) said in a state­ment about Glenn’s pass­ing, “Se­na­tor John Glenn was a great Amer­i­can. He both or­bited the earth and walked the halls of Con­gress. To do one or the other is a dream of many. Achiev­ing both has been re­al­ized by few. Se­na­tor Glenn was a na­tional hero. He was a friend and col­league. He was a beloved fam­ily mem­ber. My thoughts and prayers are with his fam­ily and loved ones.”

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