Oath of enlistment becomes out-of-this-world experience

By Sgt. 1st Class Joel Quebec | 367th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment | Feb. 28, 2020

WAPAKONETA, Ohio —

Every Soldier has a story or two. Their stories range from the beginning to the end of their military careers regardless of the length of time they spent in uniform. Approximately 1,000 new Army recruits will have the extremely unusual story of their oath of enlistment having been conducted from space by an Army astronaut.

Col. Andrew R. Morgan, a medical doctor, is currently serving as a flight engineer on the International Space Station for Expedition 62 which began on Feb. 6, 2020. On Feb. 26, he made history, along with the Army recruits as he administered the first-ever nationwide oath of enlistment via live-streaming broadcast to over 150 locations including the Johnson Space Center in Houston and a little town in northwestern Ohio called Wapakoneta, where 30 of the future Soldiers swore in. Wapakoneta’s connection to space is as the birthplace of pioneer astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first human to walk on the moon on July 21, 1969.

Wapakoneta is also home to the Command Sgt. Maj. of the Army Reserve Ted L. Copeland who was also on hand for the event. Both Morgan and Copeland talked to the future Soldiers prior to the ceremony. Copeland’s interaction was more up close and personal as he told the enlistees a little about his Army story and answered their questions. Copeland told them that their Army experiences could well be a lot like the ceremony. He told them to have fun. Although stressful at first, their military lives will be a series of experiences they may never have again.

"It's a once in a lifetime experience as they embark on their military career,” he told local Fox affiliate WLIO, referring to the ceremony. “How many other Soldiers that they're going to meet and train [with], had this opportunity."

“I don't know what another branch can say they've been sworn in from space," said Pvt. Violet Taylor, a senior at Vantage Career Center in Van Wert, Ohio.

When the video connection was made, Morgan had advice for the new troops as well, to keep pushing.

“All things that are worth doing are hard,” he said. “And as you set off on this journey, you will at some time hear that voice in your head that tells you, ‘Maybe this isn’t for you, you should quit now. There are far more comfortable ways to go about life than this.’ And that is your signal that what you’re doing is worth doing.”

Morgan said that he was Army “through-and-through” but has heard that voice multiple times in his career and by driving on, it turned out to be “extremely rewarding.”

A Soldier taking the oath at the Houston location had been thinking about joining for some time. Amber Cobena has eight generations of a military service in the Army and the Marine Corps and wanted to continue the legacy. At 26 years old, finally enlisted and swore in, honored to be a part of the historic event.

“So, if anyone is feeling resistant to doing something they’ve been thinking about for a while, just go ahead and go for it,” was her advice. “If your dreams don’t scare you then they’re not big enough.”

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