Ethan Draddy, Scout Executive Post: Distinguished Eagle Scout and former Astronaut Dr. Tom Jones comments at 34th Annual Henry Rosenberg Distinguished Citizen Reception.
I'm so pleased to join you tonight at the 2013 Henry Rosenberg, Sr.
Distinguished Citizen Award Dinner, so important to increasing support for
Scouting in the Baltimore area. Other than representing you as an American
astronaut on four missions to Earth orbit, being named a Distinguished
Eagle Scout is the highest honor of my life.
Boy Scouting skills certainly played an important role in preparing me for
astronaut selection and for my four space missions. I used (and still use)
compass, map reading, and orienteering skills during my years in an aircraft
cockpit. Survival skills learned in Scouting were the foundation for the
advanced survival techniques I picked up in the Air Force and at NASA.
Scouting taught me to remain cool under pressure, or in emergency situation,
and gave me confidence I could perform well in a strange, stressful,
wilderness environment. And space is the wildest place I can think of.
Most important, Scouting taught me how to be an effective team member:
taking responsibility for my own actions in pursuit of a goal, contributing
to the success of my patrol, and taking on leadership responsibilities. From
den chief, to patrol leader, through Broad Creek's summer Junior Leadership
Training, and finally to Senior Patrol Leader, Scouting prepared me for the
great team and leadership challenges I would face on and off the planet.
In many ways, space flight is very much like a high-tech camping trip. I
encountered strange surroundings, few personal comforts, backpacking-style
trail food, the joys of sharing a "tent" in space with close friends, and
the unique challenges of personal hygiene "in the field." As in Scouting,
that outdoors environment we call space also provided tremendously inspiring
scenery, the rewards of working and achieving together, and the promise of a
new, challenging adventure each day.
A few months before my trip to the International Space Station, I watched
with fellow Scouts as that outpost soared above our lakeside campsite in the
Texas forest. Next to me was an astronaut friend, and Scout dad, who would
erect the first set of giant power arrays at the Station. Gazing skyward
with my Scout son at that fast-moving, brilliant dot arcing past the stars,
I could hardly believe I would follow my friend just two months later. It
was the kind of amazing opportunity I'd first experienced with the Boy
About 38 percent of today's active astronauts have some level of Scouting
background. Of the 329 U.S. astronauts selected by 2013, 40 achieved Eagle
rank--about 12 percent of those serving in the astronaut corps. Those Eagles
included such astronaut standouts as Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell of Apollo
13, and Dick Truly, who later moved up to be NASA Administrator. Evidently,
NASA's astronaut selection board strongly favors the qualifications that
Eagle Scouts bring to their sky-high occupation.
If our policy makers approve and fund NASA's ambitious plans, our nation
will soon be reaching out: to capture and explore a nearby asteroid, to
scout for water at the poles of the Moon, to save the world from a rogue
asteroid, and to search for life across the solar system. When an American
explorer leaves his boot print in the dusty surface of an asteroid, and sets
foot on the ruddy sands of Mars, there's a pretty good chance he'll have
been a Boy Scout.