Seattle -- With distant stars, swirling galaxies and shuttlecraft soaring overhead, nine young Americans stood with their right hands raised as they prepared to take the next giant leap into their futures as Soldiers in the U.S. Army.
These nine at the Museum of Flight's Space Gallery in Seattle joined nearly 1,000 future Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines at more than 100 locations nationwide for an oath of enlistment ceremony Feb. 26.
In orbit aboard the International Space Station, more than 250 miles above the surface, Army Col. (Dr.) Andrew Morgan administered the oath during a live broadcast from space.
"Today marks the first day of the rest of your lives," said Morgan. "You will forever be changed by your decision to serve your country."
The future Soldiers at the Museum of Flight were thrilled by the opportunity to make their first enlistment truly memorable.
"It's hard to describe the feeling," said future Soldier Aeron Ward, a cannon crewmember enlistee from Kent, Wash. "I'm incredibly excited to begin my Army career. I can't wait to graduate high school this spring and get started."
During the broadcast Morgan encouraged the future service members and welcomed them into the armed forces.
"All of you have started an exciting journey that begins today," said Morgan. "I am so proud of you and your decision to serve and humbled to be able to share this experience with you."
The broadcast made history as the first nationwide oath of enlistment ceremony from space.
"This is by far the most unique oath of enlistment that I have ever witnessed," said Staff Sgt. Philip Velez, a Seattle area recruiter and member of I Corps' Intelligence, Cyber, Electronic Warfare, and Space Battalion. "It is a great opportunity for our future Soldiers to see firsthand what they are able to achieve in service to the Army and the nation."
After the oath, Morgan answered questions from future service members and advised them on the importance of never giving up and to always reach for the stars.
"I feel honored to have had such a special oath of enlistment ceremony," said future Soldier Ann Klakken, a shower, laundry and clothing repair specialist enlistee from south Seattle. "I was a little nervous before but, Colonel Morgan's story has inspired me to be the best that I can be."
Morgan is an emergency physician with a sub-specialty certification in primary care sports medicine. After earning his doctorate in medicine from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in 2002, he completed a residency in emergency medicine at Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
"Colonel Morgan completed the Emergency Medicine Residency program here at Madigan in 2005," said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Scott Young, Emergency Medicine Residency Program director, Madigan Army Medical Center. "His presence on the ISS as a representative of Madigan and Army Emergency Medicine shows that there are truly no limits to what our graduates can accomplish."
The Museum of Flight in Seattle is the largest independent, nonprofit air and space museum in the world. With over 175 aircraft and spacecraft, tens of thousands of artifacts, millions of rare photographs, dozens of exhibits and experiences and a world-class library, the museum brings mankind's incredible history of flight to life.
"We're happy to partner with local military affiliates to host events like these," said Ted Huetter, senior public relations manager for the Museum of Flight. "We're dedicated to educating and inspiring our visitors here at the museum. We hope that these future Soldiers will find great success and fulfillment in their new careers."