Senator Martha McSally, Republican, Arizona
Candidates.Vote wants to send its thanks this Veterans Day 2019 and best wishes to all of the veterans who at present serve our nation, those who have served our nation and are with us still as well as those who passed in its service or did so surrounded by family once home. We are a grateful nation. We want to thank our veterans of the 116th Congress that when sworn in included 96 veterans with seven of those being women, a historic record. We’ve chosen at this time to feature one of those, Senator Martha McSally, formerly the U.S. Representative for Arizona’s 2nd congressional district. After two terms there and with the resignation of interim U.S. Senator Jon Kyl the Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey appointed McSally to succeed Senator Kyl and finish out the term.
Veteran United States Air Force, 1988 to 2010, rising to the rank of colonel. First female commander of a USAF fighter squadron (the 354th) thus lifting the prohibition of female combat pilots. Sen. McSally flew the A-10 Thunderbolt II close air support over Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan.
Not many out there, especially members of the United States Congress, can say they got to their first “real” job by taking the dinghy tied up out the behind the house – because of being too young to drive –across the pond to the small waterway connecting to the Atlantic Ocean; rowing up the beach a bit and slip into the spot on the pier behind the beachside diner where she bussed tables for the fishermen. And at quitting time she’d “drive” the dinghy back to the family home in Rhode Island on the pond.
Yet, that’s exactly how Sen. Martha McSally got to work as an adolescent. And long before she graduated to being the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat and the first to command a fighter squadron in combat in United States history – all while flying the A-10 Warthog. Yes; Warthog (The more colorful nickname given to the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II.).
Clark H. Caras – “Ok. I’ve asked a lot of people in my years of journalism and public relations what their first job was. And Senator you, hands down are the winner! A dinghy? Seriously!”
Senator McSally – “Yes, a dinghy. I’d always leave in the dark and to get out on the water there was this narrow bridge I had to go thru. Depending on the season, the tide was in or out and if I was pushed by a tailwind I would hit the rocks. My dad though had taught me how to maneuver that boat.”
Clark H. Caras – “From maneuvering a dinghy; to first woman to fly combat. And now a member of Congress. How does dad feel about all of that?”
Senator McSally – “We lost dad when I was 12-years old.” Caras – “I’m very sorry.” Sen. McSally – “Thank you. Relationships are very important to me. Before dad passed, he told me to make him proud. Dad was in the Navy before I was born and he used his service as his ticket to college.”
Clark H. Caras – “So if I don’t ask it, I’m going to regret it. Combat missions over Iraq, Afghanistan and flying out of Saudi Arabia… and now Congress. What’s the hardest and the differences between them?”
Senator McSally – “With Congress the intensity of the schedule – people would be surprised at it. Of how you literally schedule your day in five-minute increments. I was surprised by it (Congress) for a while. Of how I was hardly having time to meet and get to know those on my side of the isle, let alone the other side.”
Clark H. Caras – “So how have you been able to remedy it, or have you?”
Senator McSally – “One of the problems is having time to engage and listen to each other. My training in the Air Force helped in this because I was taught to adjust and do it quickly. So you’ll find me playing in a charity football game with my Republican colleagues. No better way to get to know each other than doing it for a good cause.”
Clark H. Caras – “Any other ways you have put into action anything to get to know members on both sides of the isle?”
Senator McSally – “Every morning I work out with a bi-partisan workout group. Relationships do matter. You are more likely to get someone to support you with an issue if they know you.”
Clark H. Caras – “You have flown in combat on campaigns throughout the Middle East. How do those compare with the political campaigns?”
Senator McSally – “Ever since my dad said to make him proud I’ve realized I have a passion for making a difference. We are stewards of our own time. The military helped me learn to be light on my feet, which I find is necessary on the political campaign. And in either of the campaigns, you have to be a good decision maker. Especially important in military or a political campaign – allow people to thrive. And I don’t think it has to be said in military or political, there has to be a strategy.”
Clark H. Caras – “What is it that full Colonel and Senator McSally is reading?”
Senator McSally – “Well, right now I’m reading a few different books. ‘The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life’ by Charles Duhigg was recommended by a mentor of mine. Another is ‘Champagne for the Soul’ by Mike Mason. It has a spiritual slant to it and is about regaining your joy.” (These were books the Senator was reading more than a year ago as she served as a Congressman and this interview was initially done.)
In an almost pensive and very thoughtful voice, the Senator almost whispered, “Could use some of that right now in this job.”
Clark H. Caras – “You’re A-10 Warthog has been ‘trending’ in the news lately. First it was to be scraped and it’s been brought back to life, so to speak…”
Without my finishing the question, Senator McSally – “It is so important to keep this airplane flying. So proud of what we’ve been able to do here. I’ve seen what this plane can do. It has saved lives and is a strategic component to our arsenal in air power.
I know what this plane can accomplish. In combat, search and rescue. I know what this plane brings to the fight.” (Boeing was awarded a contract in August 2019 to continue producing new upgraded wings for the warthog and keep it in the air for another decade.)
Clark H. Caras – “Do you believe one person can make a difference?”
Senator McSally – “No question. Look at Rosa Parks; who did it by inspiring change. I’ve seen it in my own life by standing up to the Pentagon about wearing religious clothing that was a 700 year old tradition in a culture not our own. Not ours as soldiers who’d come to fight and protect it for the people there.”
In 2001 Rep. McSally challenged a Pentagon policy requiring servicewomen to wear Muslim female dress when traveling off-base. It took her battling for eight years to get the policy changed and see legislation ending the requirement signed by the President.
Senator McSally – “People told me I was destroying my career. One person can make that difference. I was there wearing that uniform for our country. My favorite t-shirt is one I picked up at the Rosa Parks Museum. It reads, ‘Women who behave, rarely make history.’”
Clark H. Caras – “What’s the last movie you saw?”
Senator McSally – “The Shack,’ I think you would enjoy it.”
Clark H. Caras – “There is talk and even production beginning on the film for a reboot of a military favorite… at least I think it was a favorite. If they do a remake of ‘Top Gun,’ will you see it?”
Senator McSally – She jokes, “No. It’s Navy. Nothing against seeing it, but it’s like a doctor watching a medical movie. They criticize it all the way through. That’s probably what I’d be doing. But yes, they make another and I’d see it. Want to know my favorite movie of all time?”
Clark H. Caras – “Definitely!”
Senator McSally – “Braveheart! It’s about sticking up for something and making a difference… even if it costs you.”
Clark H. Caras – “Do you encounter people who look right past your service to our country in the Air Force, Congress and now Senate?”
Senator McSally – “Being a woman in the military prepared me for the campaigns and the ones who don’t like me here. In both, I had to learn to compartmentalize so I could sleep at night. I’ve learned to develop a thick skin.
In life I had to learn to do things you are afraid of at the time you’re doing them. To twist past any fear – to do things afraid. I can take off in this A-10. I might be afraid wondering what we’ll encounter on the mission, but I can do it.”
Clark H. Caras – “Thank you for sharing valuable time with Candidates.vote Senator McSally and thank you for your service this nation. Happy Veterans Day 2019”
Senator McSally — I want to thank all of the military out there who have served and are serving.