DENVER (CBS4) – The Atlas 5 Rocket, made by Colorado’s United Launch Alliance, took off from Cape Canaveral on Sunday to bring vital supplies to the International Space Station.
On the same night, one of the astronauts on the space station joined a group of Colorado veterans for a special honor.
Members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #1 — the first ever in the country — gathered Sunday night for the 116th time to honor their fallen brothers, and even went out of this world to induct a new member.
“Tonight’s the 116th annual Founders Banquet, where we celebrate the founding of our organization,” said Michael Mitchel.
Hundreds gathered to honor prisoners of war, and even two living Medal of Honor recipients. And a new award was added.
“This was the year we decided to roll out the Jack Swigart Aeronautical and Astronautical Award, to really acknowledge and commemorate what veterans of the armed forces do in both flight and space exploration,” Mitchel said.
“Being in space is just amazing, looking at the planet beneath you, green, blue, white swirly colors and just a peaceful looking earth,” said Chris Cassidy, NASA Chief of Astronaut Office.
Post 1 now has a new member. Astronaut Scott Kelly will be the first person to join the VFW from space.
“Here among the stars from the International Space Station, and with everyone at this evening’s dinner, I Scott Kelly, do on my own free will and accord, join veterans of foreign wars John S. Swigert Post 1,” Commander Kelly said over video.
He has four months left in his year-long mission in space.
“Imagine living at your workplace and never leaving it. So over time you get a little bit of fatigue,” Cassidy said.
He says honors like this will help Kelly’s morale.
“Every little thing is helpful in this last part of the mission when you have to stay focused and stay strong. When you get fatigued is when you can make mistakes, and being in space it’s challenging to not make mistakes,” Cassidy said.
There was one thing missing from Sunday’s ceremony: 94-year-old George Sakato, a member of the post who was awarded the Medal of Honor 15 years ago, died earlier in the week.
He too was honored at the gala.