Category Archives: General Shout Outs

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Change of Command in Space

 I forward you Greetings from Outer Space…


To my Friends and Family on planet Earth…


Welcome aboard the International Space Station!  This spaceship has been my home now for a little more than three months, since we lit up the night sky with our launch on the Soyuz TMA rocket back in June.  I haven’t seen a car, plane, bus, or train in those three months, but have traveled more than 40 million miles in this incredible flying machine.  This coming week, I will assume Command of the International Space Station and realize a dream that not long ago would have been impossible for my generation.  Here is our announcement of the Change of Command.  Of course, Alexander (‘Sasha’) and I will understand if you unable to join us in person…  




This is a pivotal moment for NASA and of course the absolute apogee of my professional journey.  Last night, ‘Sasha’ Skvortsov (our current ISS Commander) and I sat together in the Russian Service Module for nearly three hours talking about this event coming up on Wednesday.  Though purely symbolic at this point, the Change of Command of a truly International Space Station from an active duty Russian Colonel to an active duty U.S. Army Colonel is something only dreamers could have imagined for our generation.  The road to this point has been bumpy and crooked and seemingly impassable at times, but it is a road carved out and paved with the blood, sweat, and tears of patriots and dreamers.  Sasha was in tears last night as he showed me photos of his MiG flying days and remembered friends that he had lost in their own skirmishes in Afghanistan and other places that I never knew about.  He is a patriot through and through and we promised each other to brand this moment into history and pass the torch to our children and grandchildren.  So that all that is left are the stories, and only memories of the struggle.


He was showing me pictures of his MiG-31 fighter days just last night.  Of course, I recognized the MiG from my “Friend or Foe” flash cards that I memorized in days gone by.  It wasn’t long ago that I would expect to see the MiG through the crosshairs of gun sight…not while sharing memories with a close friend and dreaming of the wonders to come for our children.  The dreams that we dare to dream…


It’s all in a day’s work aboard the International Space Station.


We are on Flight Day 95 now and looking forward to our “100-Day” milestone next Saturday, September 25th.  At this point, a little past the halfway point in this 6-month journey, as I take a moment to look back, I realize that it has been a physical, emotional and spiritual awakening.  It doesn’t take long to realize that we really don’t belong out here; we’re just temporary visitors in this hostile and unforgiving environment.  There are so many things that I miss about the Earth.  I drink coffee through a straw and squeeze food from tubes and plastic bags.  And, I haven’t had a shower since June 15th…so…you may be glad you won’t be able to attend our Change of Command in person.






All in all, it’s a magical place and all part of living in space.  Each day is graced with 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets as we orbit the Earth once every 90 minutes.  Each sunrise is uniquely beautiful…







And each sunset stunning beyond words…






My stay here on the Space Station has eclipsed all of my expectations and has truly been the pinnacle of my professional life.  Every day is a blessed gift with a surprise around every corner it seems.  As wonderful as this experience is, I sure miss the Earth.  Living here in space is just incredible, but it doesn’t take long to realize how colorless, sterile, and lifeless things are out here.  I miss the sound of rain and thunder…the smell of the leaves and the forest and flowers…the sound of children playing…and the feel of the wind against my face.  


Although I was hoping for minimal drama during my stay here, by now, you may have heard that the tension aboard the Space Station had been ratcheted up a bit, since ‘the event’ back on Saturday night, July 31st.  I hadn’t quite made it to bed yet that night, we were enjoying a relatively calm and quiet weekend getting rested for our spacewalk that was originally scheduled for Thursday, August 5th.  I had just finished running on the treadmill and was in the U.S. Lab shutting down the treadmill power, when the alarms came.  The ‘Caution & Warning Panel’ (kind of like your car’s dashboard ‘Check Engine’ or ‘Maintenance Required’ lights) lit up like the 4th of July…the sirens and warning tones went off…and my heart was in my throat.  It was the beginning of a very long night and three weeks of the greatest physical and mental challenge of my life.  I never did get to bed until the next evening.  We scrambled and worked through the night as the Space Station was slowly dying.  We powered down a lot of equipment including the Columbus (European) and Kibo (Japanese) Laboratories.


The Space Station has two cooling loops (Loops A & B) to reject heat to space through radiators out on the truss.  The medium outside is anhydrous ammonia, some pretty nasty stuff, and inside the medium is water.  Simply put, the water coolant lines flow through the Station, picking up heat from anything and everything that is operating on the Space Station, everything from laptop computers to life support systems that maintain pressure, temperature, and the oxygen that we breathe.  That water is moved through the lines by pumps inside that carry the water through the hull of the spaceship to several heat exchangers on the outside of the Station.  In these heat exchangers, the water transfers that heat through conduction to high-pressure liquid ammonia, which is moved through lines by pumps outside on the truss to radiators where the heat is rejected to space.  There are two of these ammonia pumps outside, and at about 11:00pm GMT on July 31st, the Loop A pump seized due to an electrical short and the Space Station began to die.  It’s hard to describe how that feels when you’re inside, but let’s just say that that both loops of my adrenaline pump are working just fine.


The rest of the story is chronicled in history now and is becoming a fading memory.  Three very challenging spacewalks, totaling 22 hours and 49 minutes, of slugging it out with high pressure ammonia lines and stubborn mechanisms.  I thank God every day of my life for delivering us through that time.  I’ve always ascribed to the adage “if you’re not living life on the edge…you’re taking up way too much space”…those 22 hours and 49 minutes teetering on the edge turned out to be one of NASA’s finest hours, and I feel so fortunate to have been a witness to the power of faith, teamwork, and perseverance, with a dash of good old creative ingenuity, and all covered with God’s grace.


Thought I would share a few photos from that experience. Prior to each spacewalk, we go into an oxygen pre-breathe and low-pressure ‘campout’ in the airlock.  We pressure breathe 100% pure oxygen for 70 minutes, and then depressurize the airlock to a reduced pressure (10.2 psi), oxygen enriched (24%) environment to purge nitrogen from our bodies prior to suiting up.  It is a restful and peaceful night of sleep in the airlock.  A healthy set of nerves is ever-present, but that keeps us at the top of our game.  Here is a shot of Tracy and I getting ready to seal the hatch for our campout:






…just prior to going out the door on EVA 1…






…just outside the airlock…ready to battle the M3 ammonia connector…






…during EVA 2, declaring victory over my ‘giant’ (the M3 connector)…






…during EVA 3, working on the new pump module…






We were able to get the new Pump Module up and running and bring the Space Station back to life.  It was an incredible adventure, and I look forward to re-telling the tall tales and remembering when…


Our resupplies are brought to the Space Station on an unmanned Russian capsule called ‘Progress’.  We were thrilled to welcome Progress 39P aboard the Station just last weekend.  Lots of good stuff inside, including fresh fruit and vegetables.  Sasha handed me my own personal Golden Delicious apple and I felt like he had just given me a chunk of gold.  I’ll have to admit, I sort of felt like Tom Hanks in the movie ‘Cast Away’, with his buddy ‘Wilson”…the soccer ball.  Well…I kept that apple for several days…gave him a name…and looked at him in amazement…I didn’t really talk to him or anything like that, so I don’t want you guys to think I am completely losing it.  No worries…I ate the apple on Wednesday…and it was like a little piece of heaven.


Thought I would share some recent highlights of our mission and some shots out the window.  Here’s Progress 39P on final approach…











…we spent most of the month of September amazed by Hurricanes in the Atlantic…Hurricane Danielle…






…Hurricane Earl…





…Hurricane Igor…







…and Hurricane Julia…








I’ll sign off with some views of our wonderful world…



…The Pyramids in Giza, beside the fertile Nile River….








…the beautiful Bahamas…







…and a spectacular moonlit aurora over the South Pole…







Thanks again for your patience with my delays in writing.  I did intend to be a bit better about that and pledge to send more frequent updates.


Thank you for all that you are and all that you mean to me…


I miss you and look forward to seeing you soon back on planet Earth.


With much respect and admiration,



Doug Wheelock

Colonel, U.S. Army

Commander, ISS Expedition 25


Twitter:  @Astro_Wheels








4th of July email from Doug Wheelock

Received this message from Doug in Outer Space…



Happy 4th of July, from the International Space Station!  I hope your day is full of life, love and laughter and you’re graced with those memories that transcend time.


Thought I would send along this photo and my greetings to our classmates and friends.


Floating in the Russian ‘Service Module’, the oldest part of the Space Station, and the Central Command Post of the ISS.  Photos on the wall behind me are of Tsiolkovsky (a 19th century Da Vinci), the revered Russian ‘Father of Rocketry’ and Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space.  Floating in front of me is the Congressional Medal of Honor, awarded posthumously to Lester ‘Sonny’ Stone, for his act of heroism and ultimate sacrifice on March 3, 1969 in Vietnam.


Sure miss you guys.  Can’t wait to see you, I have so many stories to tell already…no embellishment needed.  I have to run along…we’ve got to try to get this Progress re-supply spaceship docked today.  Don’t know if you heard, but it was supposed to dock on Friday, and went out of control and sailing by us…a few moments of terror on an otherwise tranquil day in space.  More later…


Hope your 4th is the best ever!  I’ll write more soon.






Wayne Richardson Platform

Dear fellow Classmates


I am seeking your vote for the position of President in this Class of 1983 election.  Our Class constitution was changed some years ago with the goal of electing class officers who had the time, proven history, and passion of serving the Class.  Over the past 10 years I have demonstrated this service, aptitude, and passion in the following capacities:


Class VP: 2003 – Present

Class 25th Reunion Committee Member – Class Aides

Class Officer (Liaison to AOG): 1998 – 2003

Class 20th Reunion Gift Selection Committee

Class 20th Reunion Gift Fundraising Committee

Class 20th Reunion Committee – Class Aides and West Point Tour Events



Additionally, my fulltime position at the Association of Graduates allows me to do Class business/work,  and represent the Class at West Point as part of my job. 


This next five years will include institutionalizing several great initiatives established under our outgoing  President, Mark Morehouse,  as well many new Class initiatives.  One key new project is the selection of and fundraising for our 30th Class Reunion Gift – a task that as your President would enhance my ability to mobilize our Class with respect to this endeavor.


I seek your vote and support if elected with the promise of serving the Class to the best of my ability if elected.  Thank you for your consideration.



Wayne G. Richardson ‘83

Wounded Warrior Program

Following is an e-mail from the Class of 58 regarding their Wounded Warrior Program at Walter Reed:

Class Leaders,

We have an urgent need for more volunteers in our Wounded Warrior Program.
Despite what you've heard about the Army responding to criticism of its handling of these heroic young soldiers, much more is still needed.  That's where we come in.  Please read the information below.

Palmer McGrew, Ex Com Chairman, '58

The West Point Wounded Warriors Program was founded at Walter Reed approximately three years ago by the Cl of 58 with the purpose of mentoring Wounded Warriors to achieve a successful meaningful and professional life within three to five year timeframe after being wounded.  This includes a Follow-On Mentor Program for the Wounded Warriors after leaving Walter Reed and going home with support and benefits coming from the VA. and Montgomery GI Bill. Because of the need, the Program has grown and taken on a life of its' own as the Classes of  56, 59, 60, 61, 63, 80 and 84 as well as the USAFA Academy Cl of 64 have joined ranks with 58 in providing approximately 70 one on one mentors in the Washington Area.

The one-on-one mentors, normally combat veterans, bond with the Wounded Warrior in a surrogate father relationship and assist the wounded soldier and marine, both male and female,  to set and achieve objectives related to an academic or professional education, internships, jobs and the VA and social security disability benefits. The mentors operate as a team as the need arises. An educational counselor, a  professional aptitude assessor and counselor, a psychologist consultant, an orthopedic surgeon consultant, a lawyer and a  combat surgeon are readily available and can be called upon for assistance.

Most all of those mentoring are West Point graduates who have volunteered their services. The Program is fully supported by the Walter Reed Staff, the Wounded Warrior Brigade at Walter Reed, units from which the Warriors came such as the 101st and 82nd Abn and the 10th Mtn Divs, reserves and National Guard as well as several higher level staff elements in the Army and DoD.

Since there are approximately 350 Wounded Warriors in outpatient status at Walter Reed and the Program  has only  approximately 110 of these under one-on-one mentorship at the present time, the Program has need of other classes to join the effort to furnish mentors for those Wounded Warriors at Walter Reed and for volunteers around the country to be follow-on mentors, when a Wounded Warrior returns home. Normally WP classes join as a cell with a class leader being identified. The class then asks for volunteers and the volunteers are trained and oriented by the Program Leadership Team. For the DC volunteer, this consists of a two hour session held in the Washington area. Mentors then select Wounded Warriors from interview information furnished by the Program.  Whenever possible mentors are selected and matched based on mutual interests with the Warrior such as professional or academic interest, units served in  religion, athletic interests, hobbies or such varied interests a car racing or fly fishing.

What are the rewards for you as a mentor?  Ask any mentor and he or she will tell you that it is the overwhelming self-satisfaction and gratification that comes from helping a Wounded Warrior back to a meaning successful productive life. You will find that the Wounded Warriors have very positive attitudes and are very motivated to help themselves. "Cannot do"  is not in their vocabulary and if told to them, it incites them only more to "I can and will do it". This Program is about bonding,  being a coach and surrogate father, mentoring the Wounded Warrior to reinforce the "I can do it" by assisting in planning the goals and achieving them as a partner.

For classes interesting in volunteering for the Walter Reed DC area Program, please contact Lee Miller at ., Phone 301-601-2733 H or W 301-295-7159.  For Classes interested in volunteering for the Follow-On Mentor Program and assisting in building a database of volunteer mentors for Wounded Warriors once they go home, please contact Bob Tredway at < <>>

PH:  202-484-2981.