Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hunting Pheasant in the "Hawkeye" State

I traveled to Iowa last weekend to go pheasant hunting with Steve Rathje, the Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District. Also slated to join us were retired Generals Tom McInerney, Paul Vallely, Jimmy Cash and Robert Sentman. Unfortunately, Fox News called General McInerney on assignment and General Vallely came down with the flu, so they weren’t able to join us. But the trip was well worth the hours of flying and waiting in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport and the flu I came down with while I was there. Iowa has received record amounts of rain this October and there has been extensive flooding. This has led to the corn and bean crops not being harvested, which made the hunting difficult at best. In fact only Steve's daughter and son-in-law bagged one pheasant each, all day and I never fired a shot.

There were three highlights to my trip that I want to mention. The first was finally meeting Steve Rathje, who is a gracious host and great man. He’s the kind of self-made businessman and conservative that we need in Congress in these troubled times to push back against the liberal agenda of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Steve, his wife Mary, Jill Petrzelka, her husband Tom and everyone else involved made me feel very welcome and I thank them for their hospitality.

The second highlight was attending an event that Steve organized, to honor WWII veterans with plaques that recognize their service to our nation. Generals Cash and Sentman presented the plaques to the vets or their family members and I felt honored to be present at this heartwarming ceremony. The recipients don’t consider themselves to be heroes and certainly didn’t go to war to receive accolades. But that’s what makes someone a hero, putting aside fear and personal safety to serve and protect freedom, whatever the personal sacrifice. Steve Rathje intends to continue to find every WWII veteran in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District and honor him or her in the same way, until he’s recognized them all. I salute him and General Sentman for continuing this truly worthy endeavor.

The third highlight of my excursion was getting to meet and talk with retired U.S.A.F. Brigadier General Jimmy Cash. It was a great and unique opportunity to speak about politics and the military with a man who has flown fighters from Vietnam up until the 1980’s. We talked about his time as the commander of an F-15 wing during the Carter Administration and how due to military spending cuts of that time, his wing had to cannibalize parts from some planes in order to keep the rest of the wing flying. He believes, as do I, that our military is about to face the same challenges today under the Obama Administration, only on a larger and much more dangerous scale, since today we’re fighting two foreign wars and we're being challenged by Iran and North Korea. We also had a great discussion about the F-22 fighter and Congress’ decision to cut the Air Force’s order down at a time when the Russians are selling their new S-300 surface to air missile system to our adversaries in Venezuela and Iran. The only fighter in the world that can defeat this new and very sophisticated missile system is the F-22, with it’s stealth capabilities. It is the upcoming deployment of this system in Iran that will determine the timetable for Israel’s anticipated strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities, since Israel doesn’t possess stealth aircraft. I should also mention that my discussion with General Cash has led to his endorsement of Edward Lynch for Congress in Florida’s 19th Congressional District and his agreeing to be our guest here on Conservative Republican Forum early next year.

I want to say that everyone I met on my trip to the “Hawkeye State” was great. I’ve made a whole host of new conservative friends and I hope to visit with Steve Rathje and company again soon.

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