Swearing in

PRINCETON — New Mercer County JROTC cadets taking oaths Wednesday to faithfully serve their country started their service with a first-ever ceremony led from a vantage point high in space.

New cadets from Princeton Senior High School, PikeView High School and Bluefield High School marched into the Princeton High School gymnasium for an historic ceremony involving an astronaut serving aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Soon after the JROTC Color Guard presented the colors and the National Anthem was performed, Colonel Andrew Morgan of the U.S. Army, an astronaut now serving aboard the ISS, swore in Mercer County’s JROTC cadets as they raised their right hands and stood at attention. Morgan’s image was projected on a screen as he administered the oath from a point 250 miles above the Earth. The ISS was traveling at a rate of 16,000 mph.

“It’s really a great honor to administer the oath of enlistment from this magnificent spaceship,” Morgan said after being contacted by Brig. Gen. Patrick Michaelis at the Johnson Space Center. Almost a thousand cadets were taking their oaths of enlistment at more than 150 locations across the United States.

“Today is the first day of the rest of your lives,” Morgan told the cadets. “You will grow and be changed by your decision to serve your country.”

Morgan then administered the oath of enlistment, and the student body watched along with the cadets’ friends and families as they solemnly swore to defend and support the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, obey the orders of the president of the United States and the orders of all the officers appointed over them.

After the new cadets received a standing ovation, Morgan took questions from cadets across the nation. He was asked one question about meeting the challenges he has faced in the Army. He replied that one thing he has learned was that things worth doing are difficult.

“I would say, especially to soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who are getting ready to go off to boot camp: all things that are worth doing are hard,” Morgan said from space. “And as you set off on this journey, you’ll hear that voice in your head that says maybe this isn’t for you and you should quit now. There are so many other more comfortable ways to go about life than this, and that is your signal that what you are doing is worth doing.”

John Hicks of Bluefield High School was among the about 29 cadets who took their oath of enlistment. Taking part in such as ceremony was an honor, and he wanted to be part of something worthwhile, he said.

“I thought it would be an honor to be involved in something that was on such a large scale and represents integrity and things the military represents,” he said.

Cody Outlaw of PikeView High School is in the Army National Guard already.

“I felt like it’s an honor,” he said of the ceremony. “We were the first ones to do it. It’s an achievement. I grew up in a military family and I just felt that it was the right thing to do and I wanted the leadership values. I want to go to college and then I want to join the CIA.”

Nicholas Scott of Princeton Senior High School is currently the commander of Tiger Battalion. He has plans to join the Army.

“Ever since I was a freshman in high school, I’ve wondered about what I wanted to do because I needed to prepare for that,” he said.

Participating in Wednesday’s first-ever swearing in from space was a once in a lifetime event, Scott added.

Another new cadet, Victoria Huyuh, will be in the JROTC at Princeton Senior High.

“I’m actually currently in the Army National Guard,” Huyuh said after the ceremony. 

She plans to major in psychology or criminal justice in college, and hopes to become a police officer. Getting to interact with somebody on the ISS made the event even more special.

“I loved it,” Huyuh said. “I’ve always wanted to do something in space ever since I was a little kid, so getting to participate in a ceremony like this with the space station was just amazing.”

Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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