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Aldrin, in NZ, pays tribute to Glenn

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/12/2016

© Twitter Buzz Aldrin has paid tribute to John Glenn from hospital in New Zealand.

"As I sit in hospital and just heard that my friend John Glenn has passed away, I feel fortunate to be recovering from my own illness, but saddened that we lost another space pioneer and world icon," he said on social media.

Glenn, a former astronaut and US senator for almost quarter of a century, has died in Ohio, aged 95.

Aldrin, 86, the second man to walk on the moon, is recovering in Christchurch after becoming sick on a private trip to the South Pole. He is awaiting medical clearance before he can return to the US.

"We have lost the pioneer of space flight for the United States, second only to Yuri Gagarin, and he will always go down in history as certainly one of the most influential officers in the Marine Corps and of course as one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts," Aldrin said from Christchurch on Friday.

"I am very sorry that he has departed us with his wisdom. I join that crowd of people and the entire nation and the world in paying homage to his service."

When they first met in 1953 Aldrin was a fighter pilot in South Korea in the 16th squadron and the 51st fighter group and Glenn was the operations officer of the 25th squadron in the 51st fighter group, Aldrin said.

"The next time I learned about him he flew of course on his first orbital flight and then when I reported as a NASA astronaut in 1963 and started training in 1964 we both became elders in the same church in Houston, Texas."

Glenn left NASA and pursued a career in politics while Aldrin went on to the Gemini 12 and Apollo 11 missions.

On July 20, 1969, Aldrin stepped on the moon about 20 minutes after Neil Armstrong took the historic first step.

Their moonwalk, part of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, was watched by a then-record television audience of 600 million people.

Aldrin said he saw Glenn at various memorials and astronaut gatherings and had corresponded with him.

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