Astronaut brings gravitas to the Wolf Pack

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Anthony Hetlage
  • 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Col. Jack Fischer, 50th Space Wing vice commander and NASA astronaut, visited Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Jan. 21 and 22, to speak to the Wolf Pack about opportunity, resiliency and work-life balance as the first of several keynote speakers coming to the base later this year.

Hundreds of Wolf Pack members made their way into the base theater to listen to Fischer share more than 20 years’ of experience across the Air Force and his time at NASA with the audience. He was inspired from when he was six years old to become an astronaut after visiting the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. He planned his college career, Air Force career and more, so he could seize the opportunity of capturing his childhood dream if given the chance.

“You have to be ready for opportunities, and ensure it’s something you really want to do,” said Fischer. “You have to do research, and you have to chart a course of goals where every step, you love what you’re doing. I loved being a pilot. I loved being a test pilot. I was ready when those opportunities arose.”

“When I was flying the F-22 Raptor, they had a short notice announcement of the NASA astronaut application and I already had it ready because I wanted to make sure it was something I really wanted to do.”

While research, preparation and some luck helped Fischer attain his space suit, he pointed out that he felt differently about resiliency and resurgence for today’s generation of Airmen.

“Everyone loves to say, ‘Well when I was a kid, we had to walk up hill both ways in snow,’ but it’s just as hard, if not harder now,” Fischer said. “The stresses and world environment is just as dangerous as it’s ever been, if not more. So we need to give our Airmen as many tools as possible to be resilient so…they can be successful going forward.”

Lastly, he emphasized to the audience to not forget about the people that matter most to them. Despite spending years away from his family as a culmination of training, deployments and missions to space, Fischer always made sure to connect with his wife. However, he admitted that one of his biggest regrets was not connecting more with his two daughters, which is something he is still working on to this day to fix.

“The advice I’d give to Airmen is to prioritize the stuff that matters most and the people that matter most. If you don’t focus on them and invest some time into the people that are most dear, someday you might be successful but you’re going to look left and right and find out you’re alone,” Fischer said. “Focus on the folks that matter most.”

Fischer was one of nine members of the 20th NASA astronaut class, and completed astronaut candidate training in July 2011. He has spent more than 130 days in space conducting hundreds of scientific experiments and two spacewalks. The research he worked on ranged from plant growth to cancer research.

Out of all the research he conducted during his time in space, Fischer said the cancer research he worked on in space was the most meaningful as his youngest daughter was treated for cancer.

“There are major challenges you face in life that are so impactful that they beat you, they break you. That’s when you need help,” Fischer said. “Whether it be a wingman, chaplain or anybody that can help you get back. That’s resurgence and you come back newer, stronger and better than before.”
As the 50th Space Wing vice commander, Fischer currently helps lead more than 4,200 military, DoD civilians and contractor personnel serving at 14 operating locations worldwide. His team supports 175 communications, navigation and surveillance satellites with associated systems valued at more than $66 million.

“You’re never going to have enough time to do everything you need to do in your life, in your job,” Fischer said. “Don’t regret the stuff that matters most, the people that matter most.”