Ohio native Glenn, wife to dot 'i'

Updated: September 3, 2009, 5:23 PM ET
Associated Press

TOLEDO, Ohio -- The first American to orbit the Earth is joining another select group.

Former fighter pilot and Ohio native John Glenn and his wife, Annie, will dot the "i" Saturday when Ohio State hosts the Midshipmen.

The Glenns will get the honor at halftime when the Ohio State alumni band, marching in formation, spells out "Ohio" on the field.

Only a handful of non-band members have dotted the "i," including comedian Bob Hope and golfer Jack Nicklaus.

Legendary Buckeyes coach Woody Hayes dotted the 'i' a few years before he died in 1988 and called it one of the highlights of his public life.

Glenn, 88, said he was surprised when he received the invitation. "It's a a great honor," he said Thursday from his home near Washington, D.C. "We'll have a lot of fun."

He said there's no question he'll be cheering for Ohio State on Saturday even though he was in the Naval Air Corps before becoming a Marine fighter pilot.

Ohio State's public affairs school is named for Glenn and the retired U.S. senator delivered a commencement speech at the school this past spring.

He finished his speech with a hearty, "Go Bucks!"

Glenn said he hopes Ohio State fans will cheer the Navy players when they come onto the field Saturday as much as they do for the home team.

"It isn't always that friendly," said Glenn, who said he and his wife attend about three Buckeyes games each year. He hopes to catch up with an old friend from Naval test pilot school.

Glenn, a native of New Concord in eastern Ohio, became a national hero in 1962 when he became the first U.S. astronaut into orbit. He also spent 24 years in the United States Senate and briefly made a run for president in 1984.

As for a prediction, he thinks Navy will play well, but expects an Ohio State victory. "I just always predict Ohio State's going to win," he said. "Most of the time that's true."

Ohio State's home opener is being turned into a day to celebrate the armed forces.

Fans will get small U.S. flags, a group of F-18 fighter jets will fly over the stadium before kickoff and the names of Ohio State students and alumni killed in U.S. wars will be displayed on the score board after the game.

"It's going to be a neat atmosphere," said Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, who this summer visited U.S. troops in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The last time a service academy played in Ohio Stadium was 1931 when the Buckeyes beat Navy 20-0.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press