Just when you think you’re doing well in your career, you come across a guy like Drew Morgan, whose achievements make you feel a little more humble.
- West Point Grad
- Medical Doctor
- Served in multiple special operations units
You can just hear a mother haranguing her young adult son, “Why can’t you be like Dr. Morgan? He’s a doctor, an Army officer, and an astronaut!”
Dr. Morgan was selected to NASA’s 21st group of astronauts. Below is the story of how that happened.
From Regular Old Special Forces Doctor to Astronaut
When the phone rang with a Houston, Texas area code, Lt. Col. Andrew R. Morgan’s heart skipped a beat. A U.S. Army medical officer, a husband, and a father of four, Morgan had been through a grueling selection process, and that call was the answer to whether he had made it into NASA’s 2013 Astronaut Candidate Class.
It was a challenge that intrigued Morgan from the moment he stumbled upon a job listing in late 2012. The Johnson Space Center in Houston was seeking candidates for a position that promised competitive pay, full benefits, and a chance to possibly travel to the Moon, Mars, the International Space Station, or even a neighboring asteroid. But for Morgan, the job’s real allure was the opportunity to continue the exploration of space, an uncharted territory far beyond Earth’s atmosphere.
From over 6000 applicants, Morgan’s extraordinary background set him apart. A 1998 graduate of The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, he went on to earn his doctorate in medicine. His career path led him to emergency medicine and eventually to the Army Special Operation community, where he thrived on challenges, graduating from Ranger school and becoming a combat diver.
Assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group, Morgan found his most rewarding role as a battalion surgeon. He developed a passion for teaching Special Forces medics, learning from them as much as he imparted his knowledge. His work in field medicine led to the groundbreaking idea of using ultrasound technology in battlefield conditions. Maj. William N. Vasios III described Morgan’s ability to adapt this technology from hospital to battlefield as indicative of his determination and vision.
His deployment experience in Afghanistan and Iraq gave Morgan skills that made him stand out among other astronaut candidates. Col. Peter J. Benson praised Morgan as a top-flight emergency medicine physician, citing his pioneering work in training and fielding ultrasounds in Special Forces as leaving a lasting impression.
Morgan’s move to Houston marked a significant transition in his life, but his core identity remained unchanged. He was joining the astronaut training program as a mission specialist with medical skills, not as a medical doctor. The upcoming two years would immerse him in flight training, robotics instruction, and Russian-language courses before he would earn full astronaut status.
While excited for this new journey, Morgan expressed contentment with his former career, stating that becoming an astronaut was the only thing that could draw him away from the Army. His humility shone through as he insisted on being just a regular guy, albeit one with significant achievements.
Those who knew Morgan agreed, recognizing in him a regular yet extraordinary individual. An Army Special Operation alumnus, this humble man was on a path to see our world from a perspective few could ever imagine. His journey from the battlefield to the stars symbolized not just personal achievement but also the limitless possibilities that lay within reach for those willing to pursue their dreams.
Most recently, Colonel Morgan served as flight engineer on the International Space Station for Expeditions 60, 61, and 62. To date, he has racked up 271 days, 12 hours, and 48 minutes in space. He’s conducted a total of 7 EVAs (spacewalks) lasting a total of 45 hours and 8 minutes.