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Out of this world

Baum realizes dream as recruit for U.S. Space Force

United States Space Force recruit Dylan Baum (left), receives a Space Force challenge coin from MSgt. Cameron Culliver following the flag raising at the Cresson American Legion Post on Thursday afternoon as Dylan’s wife, Kayla Baum, and father, Jeffrey Lundberg, watch. Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski

CRESSON — Dylan Baum was only 3 years old when he first told his mother that he wanted to go to the moon one day. Now he is one step closer to realizing that dream as he becomes a Space Force recruit.

A small crowd of family, friends and well-wishers gathered outside the Cresson American Legion on Thursday afternoon to recognize Baum and the newest branch of the U.S. military by placing a Space Force flag alongside those of the five other branches displayed on the building.

“It’s the newest branch, and for me to be the first one to join the Cresson post and to see everybody out here supporting the United States Space Force and supporting me — it means a lot,” Baum said.

The 22-year-old Cresson resident and Penn Cambria graduate said he had always been interested in the military. With his continued interest in all things space — from Star Wars to Elon Musk to NASA — joining the Space Force was a no-brainer.

“I am so excited for him,” Baum’s mother, Jennifer Baum-Lundberg, said. “From the time he was little … he told me he wanted to go to the moon and to space, and for now this is pretty close.”

Cresson American Legion Post Commander Scott Eberhart (left) and U.S. Space Force MSgt. Cameron Culliver unfurl the branch flag to fly at the post on Thursday afternoon. Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski

Jeffrey Lundberg added that one of his son’s goals was to go to Mars.

“Back when I was in high school — 16 years old — NASA and Elon Musk, they were talking about the first manned mission to Mars in 2023 and all that stuff and I wanted to sign up for it,” Baum said.

While Baum may not be a part of the first manned mission to Mars, he will still play an integral role in the building of the new military branch, Space Force Master Sgt. Cameron Culliver said.

“They’re the future,” Culliver said. “He’s going to be in charge of building this new branch. His actions now are going to have an effect on things 20, 30 years down the road. So, this is a big deal.”

Previously called Air Force Space Command, the Space Force is a department of the Air Force that is currently transitioning into becoming its own branch, Baum said. Since it is still technically a part of the Air Force, that’s where Baum put in his application.

“I’m currently in the Air Force delayed entry program until I leave Aug. 30, then I’ll officially be sworn in to the Space Force,” Baum said.

On Aug. 30, he will head to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas for basic training before going to a technical school.

Baum said getting into the Space Force isn’t the easiest thing to do, but his wife, Kayla (Massey) Baum, bragged that he had gotten a 97 out of 100 on the ASVAB, an aptitude test developed by the Department of Defense.

“I think that’s pretty freaking cool,” Kayla said. “I think it’s awesome, I’m really proud of him. He’s a very smart kid.”

To get into Space Force, a specialized Space Force review board must look over a prospective recruit’s application and give one of three rankings: high recommendation, recommendation or no recommendation.

“I was highly recommended for the Space Force,” Baum said.

He will join the 8,400 other Space Force members, becoming a part of the smallest U.S. military branch. Matched with a targeting analyst job, Baum will be analyzing images from military reconnaissance satellites, looking for anything that could threaten soldiers in the field.

He won’t be alone in his military service, however, as Kayla also decided to enlist in the Air Force.

A self-proclaimed military brat, Kayla said serving in the military runs in the family.

“Him joining wasn’t a big surprise. I was just kind of like ‘Well, here we go again,'” she said, laughing.

Currently working as a certified nursing assistant, Kayla will take advantage of the Air Force’s nurse’s commission program. After making a certain rank, she’ll be sent to school to get her registered nursing license, she said.

“I kind of figured if he’s going to go in it and I’m going to be moving around again, let’s just go in it, get all the benefits, serve the country for a little bit,” Kayla said about her decision, adding that she hopes to become a surgical service nurse.

In the meantime, she’ll be watching her and Baum’s pets, taking care of their house and paying the bills while Baum completes basic training.

Following the honorary flag raising, Culliver presented Baum with a Space Force challenge coin in recognition of his achievement.

“He’s earned his place, he’s making history here,” Culliver said. “I wanted to make sure we recognized him for his accomplishments and send him off the right way.”

Baum said he is just really looking forward to finally getting into the Space Force.

“I want to be a part of the future — the future of war fighting and just innovating and creating new systems for our soldiers,” he said.

Mirror Staff Writer Rachel Foor is at 814-946-7458.

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