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Third District U.S. Rep. Steve Womack took to the seas recently to witness one of the fastest rockets ever made. The Rogers Republican was aboard a submarine -- the USS Kentucky -- observing the Nov. 7 launch of an unarmed Trident II (D5) missile in a test range off the coast of Southern California.

This was the 156th such test of a Trident II (D5) missile by the U.S. Navy's Strategic Systems Programs since 1989, according to a military news release.

Trident missiles are capable of carrying nuclear weapons to targets thousands of miles away at supersonic speed.

The launch took place shortly after dusk, and people along the California coast were able to see it soaring through the sky.

On social media, people classified it as an unidentified flying object.

Lockheed Martin is the primary contractor for the missile. Some of the company's workers are based in the Camden area.

Vietnam vet visits Cotton

Kenny George and his wife, Carol, met with U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona and U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas on Tuesday afternoon, one day before Veterans Day.

During the Vietnam War, George served for a time on a supercarrier with McCain, the USS Forrestal, but the two men had never met before last week, the 70-year-old Dardanelle man said.

The ship had a population of about 5,000 servicemen at the time, George recalled, adding, "It was like a city."

After George completed his tour of duty, he returned to the United States. McCain transferred to the USS Oriskany and was later shot down over Hanoi.

The future senator spent more than five years as a prisoner of war.

Cotton, a Republican and also of Dardanelle, arranged the meeting. George said he was excited about meeting with the 2008 Republican presidential nominee.

"He's a true hero to me," George said.

Wounded warrior

A story on Veterans Day focused on three veterans who became congressional staff members for 2nd District U.S. Rep. French Hill. The three survived injuries during service in Iraq. A casework manager for 1st District U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, Mark Thomsen, also has wounds incurred in Iraq during the Battle of Sadr City.

On March 25, 2008, an armor-piercing explosive destroyed Thomsen's Stryker, an armored-fighting vehicle, and it burst into flames.

With the fire spreading, Thomsen jumped into action, his squad leader later recalled.

"While the vehicle burned to the ground around him and with a mild concussion, he maintained his position at the .50-caliber machine gun, engaging enemy positions while under heavy enemy machine gun and RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] fire. Only when everyone was evacuated from the burning vehicle did he leave his position," Staff Sgt. Adam C. Day wrote when he recommended that Thomsen receive the Army Commendation Medal.

The medal goes to a serviceman who "distinguished himself by heroism, meritorious achievement or meritorious service," according to the U.S. Army's criteria.

Thomsen guarded the burned-out Stryker for six hours because it contained technology that had to be kept out of enemy hands. He battled "for nearly 72 hours with little or no rest," Day noted.

Thomsen eventually retired from the Army because of his injuries, including damage to his knee.

After completing a two-year Wounded Warrior Fellowship Program, which places servicemen in congressional offices, Thomsen was given a job in Crawford's Cabot office, where he handles cases for veterans.

Journey to Afghanistan

Hill recently traveled to Kabul, meeting with U.S. military officials, diplomats and Afghan government leaders.

"I left impressed with Afghan leadership and their willingness to fight and assume responsibility for their security, particularly in light of heavy offensive operations by a more lethal Taliban and new engagement from Al-Qaeda and ISIL," Hill said in a statement.

"The Afghan Unity Government is a refreshing change from the Karzai decade, but, there is still much work to be done in terms of Afghan security, economic development, and relations with its neighbors.

The Little Rock Republican was part of a bipartisan congressional delegation that made the journey; it also stopped in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Songs and supper

Crawford held his third annual Rainbow Stew on Thursday evening at the Arkansas State University Farmers Market in Jonesboro.

Roughly 150 people showed up for the free meal and music, according to the 1st District congressman's spokesman, James Arnold.

So what, exactly, is rainbow stew?

"It traditionally includes spicy sausage, chicken, chicken broth, red, yellow, and green bell peppers, purple onions, orange carrots, celery, garlic, parsley, beans, and green onions, but recipes vary," Arnold said in an email. "The stew is usually served over rice."

The Jonesboro lawmaker and his band, Triple Nickel, played a number of golden oldies, including "Pink Houses," "Small Town," "Wagon Wheel," "Gone Country" and "Rainbow Stew."

Triple Nickel is a nod to "Interstate 555," the name U.S. Route 63 will receive if it is designated as an interstate highway.

The road stretches from Jonesboro to the Memphis area.

Who's Who

Like many other lawmakers, U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman attended Veterans Day events last week. The 4th District congressman also stopped by Park Magnet in Hot Springs for a school assembly celebrating its designation as a Blue Ribbon school.

The U.S. Department of Education gives the honor to schools that demonstrate "overall academic excellence" or make notable improvement. In addition, he planned to appear on the KARK's Capitol View today at 8:30 a.m.

But the Hot Springs Republican may have caused the greatest hoo-ha by speaking with a bunch of lumbermen Thursday -- specifically, a gathering of the International Concatenated Order of Hoo-Hoo in Gurdon.

"As you know, Congressman Westerman is a professional forester, and according to information I was provided about the organization, it is a group for foresters," said his spokesman, Ryan Saylor.

In its literature, the group describes itself as "one of the world's oldest service organizations, having been organized in 1892. That it has survived all these years is due to the fact that its members are interested in the welfare and promotion of the forest products industry."

Honoring veterans

U.S. Sen. John Boozman has begun a YouTube video series called "Salute to Veterans."

The first features Arlis Owens of North Little Rock.

The 93-year-old World War II veteran describes his service in Europe, including the fighting at the Battle of the Bulge.

Boozman, a Republican from Rogers, will submit the interviews to the Veterans History Project, a Library of Congress program that records and preserves the memories of those who wore the nation's uniform.

The video is posted at

From Capitol Hill to classrooms

Five Arkansas schools will receive free computers through the U.S. Senate's Computers for Schools programs.

Each will receive five computers, Boozman announced: Bradley High School; County Line School in Branch; Lafayette County High School in Stamps; Lee High School in Marianna; and Mammoth Spring School District.

Constituent outreach

Boozman will hold "mobile office" events Tuesday at the Scott County Courthouse, 190 W. First St., Waldron, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Thursday at the Poinsett County Courthouse Annex, 110 East St., Harrisburg, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and Thursday at the Community Building (next to county clerk's office), 221 N. Main St., Benton, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Westerman will hold a telephone town hall session on Tuesday at 6:55 p.m. Constituents can listen live by going to

Campaign trail

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee will travel to Iowa this week. The former Arkansas governor has four events scheduled for Thursday and five on Friday, including a speech at the Iowa Family Leader Presidential Family Forum in Des Moines.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will make stops in Tennessee, Texas and Kentucky, according to press reports.

Planning to visit the nation's capital? Know something happening in Washington, D.C.? Contact Frank Lockwood at (202) 662-7690 or

SundayMonday on 11/15/2015

Print Headline: Womack aboard sub as rocket flies


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