Astronaut Tom Jones Distinguished Eagle Scout Award Comments


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Dr. Tom Jones comments at the 34th Annual Henry Rosenberg Sr. Distinguished Citizen Award Reception, May 2013, Baltimore, Maryland

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Astronaut Tom Jones Distinguished Eagle Scout Award Comments

  1. 1. Astronaut and Distinguished Eagle Scout Tom Jones at the 34th AnnualHenry Rosenberg Distinguished Citizen Award Reception, May 2013Im so pleased to join you tonight at the 2013 Henry Rosenberg, Sr.Distinguished Citizen Award Dinner, so important to increasingsupport forScouting in the Baltimore area. Other than representing you as anAmericanastronaut on four missions to Earth orbit, being named aDistinguishedEagle Scout is the highest honor of my life.Boy Scouting skills certainly played an important role in preparingme forastronaut selection and for my four space missions. I used (and stilluse)compass, map reading, and orienteering skills during my years in anaircraftcockpit. Survival skills learned in Scouting were the foundation fortheadvanced survival techniques I picked up in the Air Force and atNASA.Scouting taught me to remain cool under pressure, or in emergencysituation,and gave me confidence I could perform well in a strange, stressful,wilderness environment. And space is the wildest place I can thinkof.Most important, Scouting taught me how to be an effective teammember:taking responsibility for my own actions in pursuit of a goal,contributingto the success of my patrol, and taking on leadershipresponsibilities. Fromden chief, to patrol leader, through Broad Creeks summer JuniorLeadershipTraining, and finally to Senior Patrol Leader, Scouting prepared mefor thegreat team and leadership challenges I would face on and off theplanet.In many ways, space flight is very much like a high-tech campingtrip. Iencountered strange surroundings, few personal comforts, backpacking-styletrail food, the joys of sharing a "tent" in space with close friends,andthe unique challenges of personal hygiene "in the field." As in
  2. 2. Scouting,that outdoors environment we call space also provided tremendouslyinspiringscenery, the rewards of working and achieving together, and thepromise of anew, challenging adventure each day.A few months before my trip to the International Space Station, Iwatchedwith fellow Scouts as that outpost soared above our lakeside campsitein theTexas forest. Next to me was an astronaut friend, and Scout dad, whowoulderect the first set of giant power arrays at the Station. Gazingskywardwith my Scout son at that fast-moving, brilliant dot arcing past thestars,I could hardly believe I would follow my friend just two monthslater. Itwas the kind of amazing opportunity Id first experienced with theBoyScouts.About 38 percent of todays active astronauts have some level ofScoutingbackground. Of the 329 U.S. astronauts selected by 2013, 40 achievedEaglerank--about 12 percent of those serving in the astronaut corps. ThoseEaglesincluded such astronaut standouts as Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell ofApollo13, and Dick Truly, who later moved up to be NASA Administrator.Evidently,NASAs astronaut selection board strongly favors the qualificationsthatEagle Scouts bring to their sky-high occupation.If our policy makers approve and fund NASAs ambitious plans, ournationwill soon be reaching out: to capture and explore a nearby asteroid,toscout for water at the poles of the Moon, to save the world from arogueasteroid, and to search for life across the solar system. When anAmericanexplorer leaves his boot print in the dusty surface of an asteroid,and setsfoot on the ruddy sands of Mars, theres a pretty good chance hell
  3. 3. havebeen a Boy Scout.