Tulsa Mayor's Middle East Mission Trip

Monday, October 23rd 2006, 6:05 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa's mayor returns from a week-long Middle East mission with the Department of Defense. Mayor Kathy Taylor was part of an envoy that visited military installations overseas.

News on 6 reporter Joshua Brakhage was there when she stepped off the plane.

Mayor Taylor touched down after a 26-hour journey back to Sooner soil. She stepped off a plane with just a backpack and a week's worth of memories from the Middle East. "We were in the field with the soldiers. We did simulated convoys as if a group of Marines and soldiers was going into a community where there would be explosives on the road and how you dealt with that and injuries."

The mayor says she was up every morning by five, moving before sun-up and out in the field until almost midnight.

She took the trip to get a better idea of the sacrifices military men and women are making in the Middle East. Sacrifices like that of Corporal Jared Shoemaker who was killed last month in Iraq. Shoemaker was also a Tulsa Police officer and the reason the mayor committed to making the trip. While she was there, Mayor Taylor ran into another Tulsa Police officer Jay Jones, who's now serving as a Blackhawk pilot and an entire team of Tulsa Air National guardsmen running a Med-Evac plane. "And they were very excited to see someone from home. They're very far away from home and it's a very different place than Oklahoma, so they were happy to just have a connection."

The mayor experienced refueling a plane in midair, rolling over in a Humvee and even spotted a Starbucks in Kuwait. But she says the highlight was meeting and greeting Americans, proud to be serving their country. "I've always appreciated it, but I've now seen first-hand the sacrifices that they make, and that their families make."

The mayor stressed her trip wasn't about the war, but about the men and women on the front lines. Mayor Taylor paid for her trip herself.

It's only the second time the US Department of Defense has taken a group like this to the Middle East.