Astronaut Visits Warrior Transition Brigade
By Christen N. McCluney
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2010 An astronaut who has logged more than 950 hours in the space shuttles Discovery and Atlantis visited servicemembers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Warrior Transition Brigade here today.
NASA astronaut and retired Army Col. Patrick G. Forrester speaks during a Warrior Transition Brigade event at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C., Jan. 27, 2010, where he presented the Warrior Transition Brigade flag that was flown over the International Space Station, to wounded, ill and injured soldiers for their service in the military. DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Molly A. Burgess
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"I wanted to find a way to come back and share with and honor you all," retired Army Col. Patrick Forrester said.
Forrester showed the brigade’s wounded, ill and injured soldiers a video from a Discovery mission to the international space station. The video documented the process from takeoff to re-entry and gave the servicemembers a glimpse at what it is like to live in space.
He also presented the soldiers with their brigade guidon, which traveled with him for 5.7 million miles and 217 orbits of the Earth.
"This isn't about me and what I do, but what you do,” he told the soldiers.
"We really appreciate you taking our colors up there and flying them,” Army Lt. Col. Teri A. Hassell, the brigade’s commander, told Forrester. “That means a lot to the warrior transition brigade. We were the first warrior transition unit to stand up, so this truly means a lot to us."
Forrester also held a short question-and-answer session in which he noted that he first applied to be an astronaut while he was in the Army, and he kept his dream alive for more than a decade thereafter before it came to fruition.
“Education is the biggest thing,” he said. “Never give up. From the time I first applied to the time I was selected, it took 11 years.”
He credited his education at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and his background in flying for his success, and he encouraged servicemembers that were seriously interested to take Army astronaut classes.
Forrester said he came to Walter Reed to honor the soldiers in the warrior transition brigade. “I was made aware of the brigade,” he said, “and this was a way to honor and thank them for all of their service."
(Christen N. McCluney works in the Defense Media Activity's emerging media directorate.)