HOUSTON, Aug. 4, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In early August, NASA astronaut and U.S. Navy Captain Barry "Butch" Wilmore departs Houston for a mission of gratitude and honor. Wilmore along with fellow astronaut Rick Mastracchio will visit military troops at bases in Greenland, Guantanamo Bay and Puerto Rico to share their experiences living and working in space with the men and women serving in remote locations.
"I look forward to thanking fellow service men and women and their families for their sacrifices," said Wilmore. "I'm grateful for the opportunity to share the unique experience of space flight with fellow service members."
Like members of the military, both astronauts have experience serving in a remote location. Expedition crews orbiting 250 miles above Earth now spend on average six months away from home, friends and family while onboard the International Space Station. Two members of the current expedition crew will each spend a full year in orbit before returning home.
The military morale tour was organized by Rob Powers, veteran and founder of American300.org through a partnership with Armed Forces Entertainment.
"Our tours bring accomplished individuals to remote military bases around the world to spend quality time with service members, offering not only their personal stories, but a knowing ear and shoulder heavy in experience," said Powers. "Our mentors and those whom they serve grow from the exchanges in a positive, productive manner, developing a sense of hope and understanding of the human dimensions capabilities."
Wilmore and Mastracchio are both veteran astronauts with a combined four space shuttle flights, 13 spacewalks and two space station expeditions totaling 406 days in space between them.
A Tennessee native, Wilmore holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Electrical Engineering, Tennessee Technological University; a Master of Science in Aviation Systems, University of Tennessee; and is a graduate of Mount Juliet High School in Mount Juliet, Tenn.
Wilmore has proudly served in the Navy for 29 years, and has accumulated more than 6800 flight hours and 663 carrier landings, all in tactical jet aircraft. He is a graduate of the United States Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS).
During his tenure as a fleet Naval officer and pilot, Wilmore completed four operational deployments, flying the A-7E and FA 18 aircraft from the decks of the USS Forrestal, USS Kennedy, USS Enterprise and the USS Eisenhower aircraft carriers. He has flown missions in support of Operations Desert Storm, Desert Shield and Southern Watch over the skies of Iraq, as well as missions over Bosnia in support of United States and NATO interests. Wilmore successfully completed 21 combat missions during Operation Desert Storm while operating from the flight deck of the USS Kennedy. His most recent operational deployment was aboard the USS Eisenhower with the "Blue Blasters" of Strike Fighter Squadron 34 (VFA-34), an F/A-18 squadron based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia.
As a Navy test pilot, Wilmore participated in all aspects of the initial development of the T-45 jet trainer to include initial carrier landing certification and high angle of attack flight tests. His test tour also included a stint at USNTPS as a systems and fixed wing Flight Test Instructor. Prior to his selection to NASA, Wilmore was on exchange to the United States Air Force as a Flight Test Instructor at the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
Selected as a NASA astronaut in July 2000, he has served as pilot, flight engineer and commander on space shuttle and space station expedition crews. In March, 2015, he returned to Earth after spending nearly six months aboard the International Space Station.
Armed Forces Entertainment is the official Department of Defense agency for providing entertainment to U.S. military personnel serving overseas, with priority given to those in contingency operations and at remote and isolated locations. The Department of the Air Force is the executive agent of Armed Forces Entertainment. Founded in 1951, Armed Forces Entertainment brings a touch of home to more than 500,000 troops annually, embracing the best of Americana that stretches across all genres of entertainment. For more information visit www.armedforcesentertainment.com, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.
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