Astronaut visit

Astronaut and Mt. Juliet native Barry Wilmore autographs the helmet of Trevor Wade, 7, during an event at the Wilson County Veterans Museum last Thursday. Trevor said he wants to be an astronaut like Wilmore, a veteran of two space flights. 

Mt. Juliet native Barry Wilmore visited the Wilson County Veterans Museum in Lebanon last Thursday and attracted many visitors and curious guests to the event.

Wilmore, a captain in the U.S. Navy, is a veteran of two spaceflights, most recently for 167 days as a flight engineer aboard the International Space Station. He performed four space walks during that mission.

In 2009, Wilmore piloted his first “Atlantis” flight to the International Space Station.

Wilson County Veterans Director ZaBrina Seay said the event aligns with her goal of bringing more visibility and a wider array of events to the Wilson County Veterans Plaza.

“We have phenomenal people here in Wilson County, and we want to make sure we bring all of them to this museum,” Seay said.

Wilmore completed four operational deployments during his career as a Naval officer and pilot, including missions in support of Operations Desert Storm, Desert Child and Southern Watch in Iraq, plus missions over Bosnia. He completed more than 60 combat missions.

“We’re delighted to have one of our Wilson Countians who was successful as a Navy pilot and in the astronaut program,” Wilson County Commissioner Jerry McFarland said. “We’re delighted that people have the chance to meet him. So many Wilson Countians have heard of him, but haven’t had the opportunity to meet him.”

One person excited to meet Wilmore was 7-year-old Trevor Wade, who wore an astronaut suit to the museum event two weeks after he wore it at Career Day at his school.

“Since he could talk, he said he wanted to be an astronaut. Always. He’s never wavered. It’s always what he’s wanted to be,” said his mother, Misty Wade. “I was so excited whenever we saw it on Facebook that (Wilmore) would be here.”

Wilmore said he also wanted to be an astronaut at that age, as did a lot of children during the 1970s. He said the interest of Trevor in his career and role is humbling.

“It’s pretty humbling to be honest with you. It’s the good Lord that gave me the opportunity and desire in my heart to do this,” Wilmore said. “There’s not a lot of astronauts.”

Wilmore is one of about 50 American astronauts eligible for space flight assignments, while there are less than 100 worldwide.

Wilmore gave Trevor and other prospected astronauts advice while at the museum.

“Do what you love to do. Focus on what you want to do. I was just telling them, in the last class, there were 12 selected out of 18,365 applications. So, the odds of getting selected are slim, so I always say enjoy the journey. We don’t always get what we want. Some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned are through my failures,” Wilmore said.

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