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Gerald Ford

An unsung national savior.

by Michael H. Thomson
December 27, 2006

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Gerald Ford
On August 1, 1974, I had just been promoted to master sergeant in the Air National Guard. I had been in the service less than 10 years. Additionally, I was a newly minted assistant department chief at the premier school for Air National Guard training. An institution now referred to as the I.G. Brown Professional Military Education Center.

At PMEC, we performed two primary missions: First, to groom non-commissioned officers in the leadership skills necessary to lead and motivate an evolving Air Force. Our second mission was to train and commission young leaders who would later fly the aircraft and take command of the various elements necessary to make the Air National Guard one of the finest air forces in the world.

A necessary part of our curriculum was a subject block dealing with our American heritage. In 1974 with the Watergate Hearings going on, there was quite a bit of interest in what we were ultimately defending. Some of the most patriotic people I have ever met went through our small institution. Like me, most had lived through Vietnam, war protests, Kent State, three assassinations, and now corruption in the White House. All of us were wondering what new national tragedy would befall our country.

A year before, I occupied an office in the Pentagon. I was in the D ring - meaning no daylight. I got my exercise by walking around the E ring where all the windows were located. One of the treats of my walks was to observe the vice-presidential helicopter land and take-off at a special pad outside the building. The vice president at that time - and occupant of that helicopter - was Vice President Spiro Agnew. Caught up in corruption charges, Spiro Agnew resigned - only the second vice president to do so. Enter Gerald Ford.

Appointed by Congress to fill Spiro Agnew's unexpired term, Gerald Ford left a relative powerful position as House Minority Leader to fill a less powerful position as Vice President under a weakened chief executive, Richard M. Nixon. Given the harsh realities of American politics, this, to some, was an act of patriotic self-sacrifice. Without the events before and after Watergate, Gerald R. Ford would have probably have been a strong presidential candidate in his own right.

Born in Nebraska, raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Gerald Ford was a star football player at the University of Michigan, A Navy lieutenant commander during the Second World War, an assistant football coach at Yale, and a lawyer, before entering politics as a Congressman in 1948.

When Richard M. Nixon finally resigned on August 9th, 1974, ending one of the most tumultuous presidencies since the Civil War, Gerald Ford was in the wings waiting to fulfill the role Providence had thrust on him -  the role of healer.

During his short presidency, Gerald Ford helped end recession and stimulated the economy. He did his part to reduce rampant spending issuing over 39 presidential vetoes. By comparison, our current president has exercised his veto power only once.

Gerald Ford saved the country in one of its darkest hours, although few will ever realize this. May he rest in Peace and may his memory be preserved for future generations.

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