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Dustin Senger, Area Support Group-Qatar Public Affairs
CAMP AS SAYLIYAH, Qatar
“I am amazed at how down to earth they are!” said U.S. Army Capt. Shawn Reynolds, from Lavergne, Tenn., after meeting six STS-126 space mission crew members at Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar, Feb. 2. The astronauts were visiting U.S. service members in the Middle East and Germany, to show support while sharing experiences during the crew’s November 2008 space mission. The two-week trip is a first for Armed Forces Entertainment.
“I always dreamed about going to space as a tourist,” said Reynolds. “We’ve had other celebrities here, but astronauts have accomplished something very unique – truly astonishing.”
The six-person team included: Navy Capt. Chris Ferguson, mission commander, Air Force Col. Eric Boe, pilot; Donald Pettit, mission specialist; Navy Capt. Steve Bowen; mission specialist; Navy Capt. Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, mission specialist; and Army Lt. Col. Shane Kimbrough, mission specialist.
"Although our jobs are different, we know its tough being away from family and friends – and being far from home,” said Ferguson in a NASA press release on Jan. 22. “As a military family, we know that support and a pat on the back go a long way."
“It’s a very joint environment here, but there is nothing more joint than NASA,” said Air Force Capt. Aubrey Davis, from Woodbury, Minn. “They were concise with explanations and allowed us plenty of time to talk to them. They have an intense mission that takes a lot of preparation.”
“Most of them are in the military, so they can relate to what we go through,” said Army Spc. Christine Wilson, from Lanoka Harbor, N.J. Five of the six visiting crew members are military officers. “Astronauts train at my home station, Fort Bliss. I pulled security for a shuttle landing once.”
“They make me want to go to space too!” said Army Spc. Caroline Truesdale, from Asheville, N.C. “They said it only takes 8 1/2 minutes to get there – but it’d be the longest 8 1/2 minutes of my life!”
“These are my heroes, right here,” said Army Spc. Andre Reece, Brooklyn, N.Y., after meeting the astronauts. “They have actually seen Earth! They told me it’s an amazing view.”
“I wish I had the time to become an astronaut,” said Reece. “As a kid, everyone wants to be one at some point.”