Andrews Air Force Base - Armed Forces Entertainment has teamed with American300 once again to bring NASA Astronauts to the Troops this summer. This will mark the 6th time that American300 has worked with NASA to place Astronauts with service members serving in remote and isolated locations around the world.
"We started with Astronaut Sandy Magnus back in 2009 and have had Air Force Colonel Mike Hopkins and Dr. Steve Swanson out on several tours as well," said Robi Powers, founder of American300 and the host of the nonprofits military tours. " Expedition Astronauts all have incredible 'never quit' stories of service and sacrifice and it's these stories that I think our Troops relate to the most, plus who doesn't want to meet and hang out with a person that's been in space." he added jokingly.
For Combat Navy Pilot and NASA Astronaut Captain Berry 'Butch' Wilmore, the tour is going to put him back with fellow uniformed service members. Captain Wilmore has traveled to space 3 times and will share these experiences along with his decorated combat fighter pilot service years with troops at: Thule Air Base, US Naval Station GTMO, Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen and Sector San Juan. Joining the Naval Aviator will be Rick Mastracchio, a 25 year veteran of NASA, who has spent over 228 days outside of the earths atmosphere on 4 different space expeditions.
Dedication to teamwork no matter how difficult the task is one of the bedrock principles of space flight and life on the international space station, where both Captain Wilmore and Rick Mastracchio have spent so much of their time in space. "You can't survive for 6 months in space as a soloist, it's teamwork all the way." says Dr Steve Swanson, who has traveled with Powers and American300 on 3 troop tours to date.
It's real life stories backed by individuals who have 'been there and done that' in one shape or form that American300 programming is all about. Instead of all hands presentations followed by quick meet and greets, Armed Forces Entertainment works with American300 and local commands to allow American300 guests to experience 'day in the life of' daily routines on the various bases. From early morning unit physical training to night shift work, the Astronauts will work along side service members allowing for a natural and relaxed exchange on connection.
"Our mission isn't rooted in entertainment, so having the Department of Defenses entertainment A team switching gears and sponsoring our tours is a real plus," says Major Jesse Stewart, a US Army Ranger Wounded Warrior, who mentors for the nonprofit and serves as a board member. He adds, "Armed Forces Entertainment allows our programming to push out to some of the most remote bases in the world, which then allows us to focus our 25+ other tours on bases that are closer to home."
Powers, who has served as a tour leader and host for well over 400 base visits since 2006, says Astronauts and Troops go together perfectly. "Our last visit to Thule Air Base in February involved 2 Wounded Warriors and an Olympic medalist, now I'm headed back to the top of the world with Astronauts who actually have benefited from the space object detection and tracking work that the Airmen conduct as part of their overall mission at Thule Air Base. That's 5 different 'resiliency' (American300 avoids using that word whenever possible) rich life stories that are being shared with service members stationed at the most remote base in the world. To me that shows a level of commitment on Armed Forces Entertainment's part to keep things real... I mean we're not going to be putting on a comedy act while we're up there or down in the caribbean islands with these guys."
While this tour isn't going to be launching anyone into space, it will be bringing together two amazing groups of individuals who share so much in common - duty, dedication, sacrifice and commitment... delivered on a daily basis through teamwork.
To follow the tour on a daily basis visit American300 Tours on facebook.
For more on Armed Forces Entertainment go to: www.armedforcesentertainment.com
Detailed biographies and more can be found at: www.nasa.gov
American300 is an all volunteer 501c3 with a mission of supporting the Department of Defense, Homeland Security and Department of State's resiliency program initiatives. No federal endorsement of nonprofit or sponsors is ever implied or intended - American300.org