Glenn had tested aircraft at Patuxent River NAS
Couple briefly owned a home in Town Creek
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.”