‘We’re waiting on a classmate’: Astronaut welcomed home, Air Force Academy-style
By KARIN ZEITVOGEL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 4, 2019
Note: This article has been corrected.
Air Force Col. Nick Hague was welcomed back to Earth from the International Space Station Thursday by a phrase that’s familiar to him and his fellow Air Force Academy class of 1998 alumni: “We’re waiting on a classmate.”
The phrase describes “one of the ‘fun’ things at the academy,” said Kevin Divers, who put together the welcome-home video featuring himself and others from his graduating class waiting for Hague, academy-style.
“If one of your classmates was not present for formation, you would end up doing some physical activity while chanting, ‘We are waiting for our classmate,’ until they showed up,” Divers said by phone Wednesday. “So I decided to reach out to our classmates and get some ‘waiting for our classmate’ pictures for Nick, and found that the class of ‘98 is doing some pretty extraordinary things all over the world, not just in orbit.”
Forty-seven of Hague’s classmates sent in photos. Two had become U.S. citizens while he was in space, Divers said. One coached the under-18 U.S. girls’ volleyball team to a world championship win.
A classmate from Estonia who now leads NATO’s cybersecurity division was at a training session with Olympic athletes. Images came in from Djibouti, Afghanistan, Malta and one undisclosed location.
The video, which can’t be shown for copyright reasons, shows the alumni doing push-ups and other physical tests like the “watching TV” pose, in which airmen assume the plank position, “resting on elbows, hands under chin, and when asked to change channels, you reach out and mime turning a TV knob,” explained Divers.
Some of Hague’s classmates held signs saying, “Waiting for my classmate, Nick.”
Hague’s classmates also sent him a message to mark his birthday in late September, which he celebrated on the ISS.
“We did this because, as a class, we wanted to show our support for him and let him know how much he is inspiring us and many, many more,” said Divers, who along with the others is still waiting for their classmate to return to Houston, which he is expected to do in the coming days.
Hague conducted three spacewalks during his mission, took part in many science experiments, and chatted by video link with Brad Pitt, who plays an astronaut in “Ad Astra.” A capsule carrying Hague and two other astronauts landed safely on the steppe in Kazakhstan on Thursday.