WEST POINT, N.Y. — With a history of service, one family carries their military legacy into the future.
U.S. Military Academy Cadet Daniel Morgan, class of 2026, joined the “long gray line” 28 years after his father, Army astronaut Col. Andrew “Drew” Morgan, class of 1998, took the same bold steps.
Daniel said that attending West Point means continuing his family’s legacy of serving their country, which extends back several generations.
“My great-grandfather was a Marine Corps officer, my grandfather an Air Force officer, and my dad is still an active-duty Army officer. I’m proud to be part of that tradition,” Daniel said. “And my dad encouraged me to forge my own path. Each generation of service in our family had a unique story.”
Drew says his West Point experience provided not only an education, but the basis of his personal character as a father, Soldier, medical officer, an astronaut — and especially — as a leader. He wrote many letters to Daniel while he was in Cadet Basic Training, giving him advice on how to succeed at West Point and as an officer.
“He would probably say I gave him too much advice,” Drew said. “In general, I tried to distill it down to a few basic ideas: do the right thing, do your best, be prepared, and of course, be a great teammate.”
In August, Drew joined the new cadets at the end of their summer training for the 12-mile road march from the final encampment at Lake Frederick, New York, back to West Point.
“I was able to spend time with my son and his entire platoon over the course of the early morning trek,” Drew reflected. “Seeing Daniel as a Soldier and interacting with his peers after weeks of bonding over their tough training overwhelmed me with pride. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”
Daniel said it can be both a blessing and a curse to follow in the footsteps of a father who is a West Point graduate, colonel, physician and an Army astronaut who spent nine months in space in between 2019 and 2020.
“In some ways, it is easier because I have parents that understand what I’m going through,” Daniel said. “But there’s also some added pressure because many of my classmates and upperclassmen know who my dad is, and that sets certain expectations.”
Daniel is the oldest of four children and has three younger sisters who may also consider military service. They all look up to their older brother and Drew believes Daniel’s decision to attend West Point will influence them in the future.
Drew was quick to also point out that his wife Stacey is the backbone of their family, as most military spouses are. He reiterated that Stacey was a supportive partner in his career from day one. Stacey attended West Point for two years, and although she did not graduate, her experiences there gave a depth of appreciation for the unique challenges and opportunities of military family life and her vital role.
“Stacey has always been the rock-steady foundation of my career because of our shared understanding of service and sacrifice for mission success,” Drew remarked. “As we’ve grown together in this pursuit over the years, she is becoming one of the Department of Defense’s leading advocates for military spouses and families.
“With my wife serving by my side and my son in the same ranks, the Army is a central part of our family’s story,” he added.
Daniel said his experience growing up in a military family was unique.
“I moved around a few times when I was younger,” Daniel said. “But we were stable at NASA in Houston for the last nine years of my life. I know that’s not the case for most military kids.
“We still had some unique opportunities, like traveling to Russia and Kazakhstan for my dad’s job,” he added. “Those were impactful experiences, and they inspired me to learn more about those countries and their distinct cultures.”
Drew says that West Point was a formative part of his life and the career path he still follows after 25 years.
“I matured a lot in those four years, and I even met my wife while we were cadets there,” the astronaut recalled. “Now with our son at West Point, we have another touchpoint as parents. Our bond to USMA is only deepening.
“The most important life lesson I took away is deeply ingrained in the place - that character matters more than anything else,” Drew added. “Academics, physical training, technical and tactical preparation are all vital to creating Army officers, but character and integrity matter the most.”
Drew highlighted that the most rewarding part of being in a military family is their ability to all contribute to the same mission.
“In our family, we emphasize how we all play a role in making the mission successful,” Drew said. “Sometimes, that means sacrifices through long hours, frequent separation and inconveniently timed PCS moves. But we believe those challenges are offset by the unique experiences, unparalleled camaraderie and sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves.”
Daniel said his parents have been very supportive of him and being at West Point and pursuing an Army career — that it is another bond connecting them.
“I’ve heard them talk about their fond — and not so fond — memories of the place for most of my life, so as I’ve had my own experiences, it gives us more to share when we are together,” Daniel said.
Drew added that, “When I reflect on my career, my service to Soldiers and with Soldiers will be my greatest source of pride. My hope is Daniel will experience similar sentiments from his service.”
And in true West Point family tradition, when Daniel was asked if he had anything else to add, he simply concluded with, “Beat Navy.”