Astronaut shares experience with KMC students

by Staff Sgt. Travis Edwards
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Children from the Ramstein school district received a treat Aug. 15 when a retired Air Force astronaut came to visit and talk about his most recent trip to space.

Retired Col. Gregory Johnson, pilot of the space shuttle Endeavour’s last launch, spoke with the children about achieving their dreams, how to become an astronaut and life on the International Space Station.

“Hopefully, if I talk to a whole bunch of kids about it, maybe a few of them might be inspired to do something they otherwise might not have done had they not heard a really cool story about flying on a space shuttle,” Johnson said.

The children sat mesmerized, hanging on to every word as he explained to them the many different intricacies of space travel.

“What I would like the kids to remember is that exploration is part of what we are as Americans,” Johnson said. “There are tens of thousands of people who have dedicated their lives to coming up with new technology and designing new experiments that make our life a better place.”

Johnson finished his meeting with a quick video showing life on the space station in zero gravity, showing the children exactly what he was talking about.

“My favorite part was when they were pretending to be Iron Man,” said Ramstein Elementary School second-grader Ryan Hopkins, referring to a moment in the video when Johnson made a fist in the air and jumped while in zero gravity.

“Everything (on the space station) is fun (for the kids). When you take gravity out of the situation, eating is fun, sleeping is fun, working is fun. I mean, it’s all fun.”

But aside from the fun and exciting things he did on the space station, Johnson said he likes inspiring the children, especially those who are going to the schools in the areas he did as a child.

“It’s been a wonderful experience being here in Germany and sharing with the kids about Endeavour’s final flight,” he said.

“The kids here are smart and ask great questions,” he said. He added, a large part of that is from teachers of Department of Defense district schools striving to inspire and educate all the children to the max of their potential.

Johnson also visited other schools in the KMC and is currently on tour around the European theater.