« BACK  |  PRINT

RS

MEMBER DIARY

The Private Life of Governor Rick Perry

Much of Governor Rick Perry’s political positions are becoming well known to those of us who are politically active. I have been researching into many of the GOP candidates that are running for the nomination. It is one thing to determine what a candidate stands for on the issues, it’s another to see what they have done in the privacy of their personal lives.

Very few of us completely agree on every issue that might come up in life. We have grown up with different life experiences and each of us react differently to those situations. To me, what a person does in relation to others without any prompting or political gain, says so much more about a persons character and beliefs than what they claim to believe in public. To whit, the reason for this article.

The personal history of Rick Perry is more diverse than what people might believe. The following is just a few brief glimpses into Perry’s long road he has toed to date. Nothing is more true than when Perry said “If you want to see God laugh, just tell him your plans.”

Rick Perry grew up in a very rural area of Texas, living and working with his parents, as most farming families do up till this day. Some of the early influences were the Boy Scouts and earning the Eagle Scout award, the 4H program, and learning to play the piano. All of this requires a person to have initiative and a work hard attitude.

Perry while at Texas A&M, joined the Corps of Cadets and was well liked and elected yell leader. He also sold books door to door to help pay for college. Vietnam was in the back of everyone’s mind at this point in time, as it was for Perry. He accepted a commission in the United States Air Force after graduating, completed pilot training, and flew tactical airlifts in Europe and the Middle East through most of the 1970s. He retired in 1977 as a captain and returned to Texas to work on the family’s cotton farm.

Colleagues of Perry during his tour have fond memories of him.

“People are assessing you from the moment you walk in the front door,” said Forman, an Abilene resident who served as an aircraft commander with the 772nd squadron. “You were dealing with massive personalities. All of us were extremely confident young men, and he thrived in that environment.”

“I remember he was slim, trim and in good athletic condition,” said William Alexander of Colleyville, another pilot who served at Dyess with Perry. “I thought he was a pretty sharp guy and dependable. Some (airmen) you had to worry about, but he was on top of things.”

Those times back then were easy compared to being governor of Texas. Texas National Guard and Reserve has been used to supplement military forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan for the last 10 years. Perry has had to comfort spouses and family that have lost loved ones who were killed in action.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry hugs Betty Martinez, the mother of fallen Army Pfc. John Edward Andrade, Sr. of San Antonio

Texas Gov. Rick Perry hugged Betty Martinez, the mother of fallen Army Pfc. John Edward Andrade, Sr. of San Antonio on Saturday, during a joint session of the Texas Legislature to honor fallen Texas servicemen in the House Chamber in Austin. Family members of fallen veterans crowded the House floor in a special joint session. State Sen. Brian Birdwell, who retired from the Army after being seriously burned in the Sept. 11 attacks on the Pentagon, helped read the names of 96 service members killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For the returning soldiers, Perry has made it one of his top priorities to take care of them. Even while campaigning this September, Perry made time to attend the Lone Survivor Foundation’s Second Annual Gala.

“These are our precious sons and daughters; they are our flesh and blood,” Perry said. “We must take care of every last one of them. Organizations like the Lone Survivor Foundation are part of our helping meet that obligation, but the state has a role to play as well.”

For the members of the military, the return home can be every bit as trying as anything that happens on the battlefield, Perry said.

Gov. Rick Perry’s good friend, retired U.S. Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell and his dog, Rigby also attended the Gala.

Speaking of Marcus Luttrell, Gov. Perry has been there for him whenever needed.  After his therapy dog was murdered, Luttrell chased the perps down and held them at bay until police arrived to arrest them. Marcus ended up going to the Perry’s in need of support and comfort after his loss. The Perry’s offered Marcus an invitation to stay at their place as long as he needed to. Marcus has been an adopted family member ever since getting back from his traumatic ordeal in Afghanistan where he was the lone survivor of Seal Team 10.

Rick Perry and Marcus Lattrell

Rick and Marcus spend time together to help raise funds to help others like Marcus coming back from war torn areas. They frequent the Texas Custom Choppers and raise funds by auctioning off a Harley Davidson Medal of Honor motorcycle signed by 17 Medal of Honor recipients.

Rick Perry has also taken the time to talk to those just going into the military.

As Perry mingled in the crowd following the townhall, he was approach by Joseph Buhr, an eighteen year old from Altoona, Iowa, who is set to enter basic training for the Marines in December. When he learned the young man would enter the Marines in one month, Perry put his arm around Buhr’s shoulder, drew him in, and whispered in his ear with a few words of advice.

“He told me that if I don’t come across certain challenges along the road of life, I should probably step up my game a bit,” Buhr recounted to ABC News after the exchange. “In the Marine Corps, that actually means quite a bit. You do have to compete quite a bit to succeed in that career.”

“It means a lot coming from a guy who has been very successful in life and who has also been in the military,” Buhr said. “All the advice I can get about life in the military, it means a lot. I don’t take it for granted.”

Such has been Rick Perry’s philosophy in life. He has also shown great compassion and friendship to those he’s come across who were suffering. He met up with Heather Burcham who was suffering from cervical cancer after contracting HPV. Perry developed a close friendship with Heather, spending personal time taking her out to do things she never had done before. Towards the last days of her life, Perry spent one on one time with her, alone, without any fan fair, talking about things that were going on. Rick Perry also spoke at her memorial service. It is extremely moving.

Heather Burcham on Rick Perry motorcycle

I’m sure there is much more Perry has done that we don’t know about. I had a hard time finding much of what is posted here. I believe that you gain greater insight into a person’s character when you look at what they did when no one was looking. Just the small amount of what I have found out about Perry shows me a person of great character and integrity. It reminds me of a quote from Mark Twain.

“Let us endeavour to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”

Get Alerts