By itself, taking the military oath of enlistment is a life-changing moment.
For seven area high school seniors, along with hundreds of others across the country, that moment Wednesday also marked a first for the United States military.
Six seniors from Truman High School and one from William Chrisman High School gathered in the Truman lecture hall and raised their right hands along with nearly 1,000 recruits nationwide.
Administering the oath: Army astronaut and Col. Andrew Morgan, via live video feed from the International Space Station, floating 250 miles above the Earth.
“We heard from Army Recruiting Command that they were going to have the opportunity to do this,” said Sgt. 1st Class Nestor Torres, Army instructor at Truman, “and we knew we had some graduates that were going to enlist, so they set it up where we could all come here and Skype in.”
More than 150 locations logged in for the mass swear-in, the Army said.
One of the Truman seniors, Austin Anderson said the scale of the arrangement hit him during the ceremony.
“I was like 'Holy cow,' thinking of all the people involved,” Anderson said.
While Anderson said it wasn’t until the end of his junior year that he really thought about enlisting, classmate Benny Ochoa said he’d planned to since his freshman year, both wanting to hone their leadership skills. While Ochoa said he isn’t sure what he wants to do with his Army training, Anderson said he hopes parlay his experience into a medical career.
According to an Army release, Morgan arrived at the space station last July 20, the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, and has made seven spacewalks during his nine-month mission. By the end of his mission, he said he expects to have conducted about 300 science experiments with his two crewmates.
"I made the decision when I was 18 years old to raise my right hand just like you're about to," Morgan told the recruits. "I am still a soldier. I'm just serving in space on the ultimate high ground.”
"I'm here as the direct result of the incredible opportunities I had in the Army and I'm a soldier through and through."
Morgan then unzipped his NASA uniform to reveal a black T-shirt with "Army" in white and gold lettering.
Following the oath, Morgan answered questions from the recruits during the 20-minute live broadcast.
Torres said the whole event went “smooth,” even with the natural delay from Morgan being in space.
“I told them, ‘This is something you’ll get to take with you forever,’” he said. “It was groundbreaking.”