Rep. Mark Green, a retired Army Ranger and surgeon, on Friday evening recognized the more than 200 veterans attending his celebration of veterans before speaking with deep passion and love for the military men and women he has known and lost throughout his 30-year career.
Green spoke to a crowd of about 500 people who were at Willis and Joyce Johnson’s private classic car museum and enjoying catfish, chicken fingers and fixin’s from Uncle Bud’s food truck.
He spoke of a man named Corey.
“Corey was the first person I met when I flew into Iraq the first time. Corey had the courage to go back into war after being shot seven times. That courage is why we make such a big deal of Veterans Day.”
He spoke of a man named Rob.
Green said that Rob, a friend of Green’s brother-in-law, was in the unit that killed the head of ISIS. Rob was past his retirement date and was still in Iraq waiting for a flight home when a mission for his team came up.
Despite protests by his superior, Rob insisted. They were still his men and he wanted to be with them, Green said.
Rob was a breacher. After chargers get tossed into a building and blow up, he would be the first one to go in.
“He went through the door. Rob was killed by insurgents,” Green said. “He could’ve sat out the mission, but that never-quit mentality is why we make such a big deal out of Veterans Day.”
Green recalled Pat Tillman, an NFL player who left the football field for the fighting field after 9/11.
“He was no different than any other soldier who died, except he walked away from the NFL and died on the desert floor,” Green said. “It’s that sacrifice, it’s why we make such a big deal out of Veterans Day.”
He recalled the Navy Seal who had been hit in the face with shotgun pellets and had asked Green to remove them. Green did so, using an 18-gauge needle with a pretzel headlamp and no pain meds to dig out the pellets.
“That’s toughness, and that’s why we make such a big deal about Veterans Day,” Green reiterated.
Right now there’s a soldier, a sailor, a Marine, an Air Force pilot manning a foxhole, a ship, a plane — for you,” he continued. “That’s why we make a big deal about Veterans Day.”
The congressman also spoke of his experiences as an Army Ranger and surgeon during the War on Terror and the capture of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Green thanked the veterans, their spouses and all first responders in the gathering and then talked about his service as a member of the United States Congress.
He counted off the successes, which he says have been overshadowed by the political climate and lack of news coverage. They include a vibrant economy, tax cuts, the lowest unemployment in history for African Americans and Latinos, 170 judges approved and seated, two Supreme Court justices and continued attempts to restrict abortion.
The party ended with two birthday celebrations, including a large cake for both Mark Green, who celebrated his 55th birthday on Nov. 8, and for Joyce Johnson, whose birthday was Nov. 9.