This documentary captures the pivotal events in John Glenn's life: his humble beginnings in Depression-era Ohio, his life-changing ride-along with a barnstormer, his enlistment following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, his 122 combat missions during World War II and the Korean War, his envelope-pushing exploits as a Naval test pilot, and his transition to astronaut during the Cold War. Thrilling archival footage of NASA lift-offs and transmissions help chronicle Glenn's historic orbits around the Earth on February 20, 1962. In interviews, Glenn describes the importance of the Mercury-Atlas 6 mission, the risky nature of the launch and Friendship 7's treacherous re-entry five hours later. As a fitting coda to a life spent dedicated to serving his country, John Glenn: A Life of Service concludes with Glenn's record-setting space flight in 1998 at age 77.
John Glenn: A Life of Service, Tuesday at 10 p.m. on PBS 6.