Although I’m a retired military member who served two tours in Vietnam as an Army aviator, I have never been one to think less of a man who did not serve in combat ... or even in the military service.
What puzzles me is why some who have not served in combat, or have served in less “glamorous” positions in the military, tend to embellish their service.
I recently heard 11th District congressional candidate Barry Loudermilk speak to the Cobb Republican Party breakfast. After carefully listening to his speech, I left thinking he spent eight years in the Air Force as a pilot and intelligence officer from 1984 until 1992. There was also a mention of “Desert Storm,” but the context was unclear.
I went to his website for further clarification and to see what aircraft he flew. His bio had a photo of him in an Air Force flight suit, sitting in the cockpit of a small aircraft, and another in the uniform of an Air Force enlisted man. I read his bio, which stated he served as a communications operations specialist in Texas, Hawaii and Alaska.
I found it difficult to believe that I would misinterpret his presentation of his military service, or that he would intentionally misrepresent it, that much ... as he mentioned being a pilot several times. (I’ve since discovered he obtained a civilian private pilot’s license in 2008).
If I had any doubts of Mr. Loudermilk’s intent to mislead his audience, his performance in Saturday evening’s congressional debate at Kennesaw State University put the doubts out of my mind!
The following were some of his remarks:
“And one of the most important issues is going to be Dobbins (Air Reserve Base), and I’ll commit to you as someone who knows the importance of national defense, I’ve lived in that arena, I worked in that arena, and as an aviator, as a pilot, I know the value and the importance that our aerospace and our airpower has. We must do everything in our ability to keep Dobbins operating and open.” …
“When I was in the Air Force, I was in a course that we were discussing aerospace engineering and flight physics and I remember the professor was talking about the bumblebee and at the time, aerospace engineers couldn’t figure out how a bumblebee could fly.” (Why does an enlisted, communications operations specialist study aerospace engineering and flight physics? And Herman Cain tells this same story about himself but it’s set in a physics class often and was even told on his radio show the week before the debate.) ...
“I bring the experience and the knowledge of not just a state legislator but I know intently from being in the Department of the Defense and working in aerospace as well as working in the United States Air Force how important it is, and I will bring that knowledge to the table.” …
“Folks, Putin has taken out of mothballs the Bear H bombers that we intercepted when I was in the Air Force in Alaska.” …
“I can’t answer that question right now, because unlike when I was in the military, I was in intelligence and we had that information.”
In my opinion, anyone witnessing that debate would assume, from his carefully misleading statements, that he was an Air Force pilot with the skills needed to address issues of operations of Dobbins, and the intelligence experience needed to address the present foreign policy issues in Washington.
This conduct leads me to believe that if a person feels it’s necessary to mislead the voters about his actual resume, he must feel unqualified for the job.
Perhaps he knows something we don’t — but that we should. I thank him for his service — but the embellishment of that service does not earn him my trust!
Editor’s note: Stanley served two tours as an Army helicopter pilot in Vietnam and later worked as a police officer in Detroit. Prior to the recent primary, he served as Veterans’ Coalition chairman for 11th District candidate Tricia Pridemore of Marietta.