By Sandy Artzberger
Special to The PREVIEW
Veterans Day is always a special time of remembrance and gratitude for our veterans at ACRW meetings.
This year is no exception, as we will hear from two distinguished local veterans who will be talking on patriotism — Gen. Tom Hall (retired) and Jim Huffman, chair of the Republican Central Committee, (retired lieutenant colonel).
In their retirement, both men continue to be very involved in Pagosa Springs, sharing their expertise and concern for our country’s political and military direction. Both are exceedingly thought-provoking to listen to.
The ACRW meeting is from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Nello’s on Tuesday Nov. 11. A $10 lunch menu is available. All are welcome. Please call Marilyn Harris at 731-6336 for additional information.
Most of Hall’s adult life, career and post career, has been focused on the military aspect of foreign policy. He has some provocative thoughts regarding the success or nonsuccess of war based on constitutional mandates for Congress to provide for the common defense and have sole authority to declare war.
Hall entered U.S. military service in October 1956, enlisting in the Marine Corps Reserve. Five and a half years later, after completing his degree in aeronautical engineering at the University of Oklahoma, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the USAF. In 1962, he began a career as an instructor pilot and fighter pilot, which concluded in the summer of 1991 with over 4,300 flying hours. His service career paths also included being vice commander of the NATO Fifth Tactical Air Force in Italy and ended as director of safety for the Air Force.
Besides receiving numerous combat decorations, Hall was also awarded the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, two Legions of Merit, two Meritorious Service Medals and many more. He states that he has now retired to the golf course and lives here in Pagosa with his wife, Dian.
Huffman was born in 1946 in Stockton, Calif., during that short period between WWII and Korea when his father was not flying for the Army Air Corps or, later, the Air Force. When he was 4 years old, his father was recalled and Huffman spent the next 16 years growing up on, or around, various Air Force bases around the country. Basically, he has spent his entire life either in, or associated with, the military.
Huffman quit college at San Diego State between his junior and senior years to join the Army in 1966 — “before the war was over.” Huffman had two tours in Vietnam, as an infantry platoon leader in 1968 and with special forces in 1972. He retired from the Army with the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1988, having served in the infantry, military intelligence and special forces branches during his 22 years. He was already attending law school at night in Monterey, Calif., when he retired. He received his law degree and passed the California bar exam in 1992; but, for various reasons, he never practiced law.
He had started working with a defense contractor while he was in law school and continued doing training development for several different companies in support of Army training programs for almost 20 years, until he finally retired in 2008.
He met and married his wife, Dagmar, in Monterey in 1971 while he was attending Vietnamese language school. They sold their home in California and moved to Pagosa Springs in 2002. They have three children.
Politically, he can best be described as a Goldwater Republican or as a Conservative Libertarian. Basically, he is a soldier, not a politician. He believes less government, to the extent that it is consistent with a strong national defense, is better and that government should stay out of our private lives as much as possible. He is a fiscal conservative and wants the government to reduce spending.
He attended the caucus and was elected as a delegate to the Republican assemblies in 2010, and worked on behalf of Bob McConnell during the 2010 primary. Huffman’s participation in this were his first involvement in politics. In February 2011, he was elected chairman of the Archuleta County Republican Central Committee and he was re-elected chairman in February 2013.