Published: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 @ 4:45 PM
Updated: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 @ 5:21 PM
By: Laura A. Bischoff - Columbus bureau
Columbus — The main airport in Ohio’s capital will be renamed John Glenn Columbus International Airport to honor the American hero if a bill moving swiftly through the Statehouse becomes law.
Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville, is spearheading the name change to honor Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth and a four-term United States senator. Rosenberger said Tuesday that he has lined up support from Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, Gov. John Kasich, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, Franklin County commissioners and others.
“I had a chance to catch both Sen. Glenn and Annie Glenn yesterday at a function before they took off and said ‘Would you mind if we did this?’ And of course he is extremely humble and would never look to seek anything like that but was extremely touched,” Rosenberger said. “I think it is very befitting for his honor.”
Glenn, now 94, has lived a storybook life. The small-town Ohio boy married his childhood sweetheart, Annie Castor, and served as a fighter pilot in two wars, a test pilot, an astronaut and a U.S. senator.
In 1998 he returned to space on a nine-day mission aboard the Discovery space shuttle, becoming the oldest American in space. Last year, Ohio State University elevated the John Glenn School to the John Glenn College of Public Affairs.
Glenn is now the last of the original Mercury 7 astronauts still living.
Rosenberger said he expects minimal cost to the name change because he anticipates signs would be changed out as needed over time.
“I can’t think of a more appropriate or fitting honor than to have John Glenn’s name on central Ohio’s largest airport,” said Dale Butland, who served on Glenn’s Congressional staff. “He’s been called the last genuine American hero and when you think of everything he was a part of — WW II, Korea, the early space program, his friendship with the Kennedys, and 24 years in the U.S. Senate — I’m not sure we could have held the last half of the 20th century without him.”
The Ohio House will vote on the bill Wednesday, Rosenberger said.