Live from Music Row Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed TN-5 congressional candidate Jeff Beierlein to the newsmaker line to discuss his Black Hawk piloting experience, facing fear, and his proven leadership abilities.
Leahy: On the newsmaker line, our good friend Jeff Beierlein, West Point graduate, former Black Hawk pilot, combat veteran, healthcare executive, Owen Graduate School of Management MBA graduate, and now a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 5th Congressional District. Good morning, Jeff.
Beierlein: Hey, good morning, Michael. How are you?
Leahy: We’re great. Looks like you picked up an endorsement over the weekend. Tell us about that.
Beierlein: I did. I’m quite honored to be endorsed by SEAL PAC, which is the nation’s leading veterans organization PAC endorsing myself and quite a few of the other veterans trying to get more involved in our congressional process. So I’m delighted.
Leahy: Very good. Tell us a little bit about this Tennessee National Guard situation. You were down there, I think. Were you the only TN-5 candidate at the rally?
Beierlein: There were a couple of us. Stewart ]Parks] was down there. Tres [Wittum] was down there as well. There were several missing, but we got to be a part of the rally in support of our guardsmen.
By the way, I was part of the National Guard for several years at the end of my career, and I can tell you it’s very well organized. So we got a petition of probably at least 80 or 90 folks who were down there in support of this.
And then we marched to the governor’s office. He wasn’t present. We got a very tepid response about that.
Leahy: Tepid response.
Beierlein: We were very proud.
Leahy: You’re a very polite guy. Tepid response? That means they didn’t do anything, right?
Beierlein: Well, they said, we will pass this on to the governor. That’s what happened. To my knowledge, we haven’t heard anything.
Leahy: Well, what should the governor do here?
Beierlein: There’s a bunch of things he should do. And secondly, we should expect more from Governor Lee in this regard as well. If we look at what some of the other governors have done from North Dakota to South Carolina, Texas, and Florida, they’re taking a more proactive stance.
He should be suing the federal government or the Department of Defense because they’re compromising our state’s readiness. And we’re leaving at least several hundred of our Tennessee guardsmen swinging in the wind, and this is unacceptable.
Leahy: Jeff, tell us a little bit about the last days of the campaign here now. It is July 5th. The primary election is on August 4th.
You have eight competitors that are qualified candidates for the Republican nomination. Early voting begins on Friday. Tell us what you’re doing campaign-wise.
Beierlein: Sure. Early voting is actually Friday the 15th. So not this Friday, but next Friday.
Leahy: Thank you.
Beierlein: We had a wonderful, wonderful weekend. I was in downtown Franklin yesterday talking to some folks. It wasn’t a big setup or anything, but just introducing myself and talking to people about the issues.
The highlight of the weekend was actually the Bellevue Breakfast Club for the folks in Davidson County … [unintelligible audio] We had about 60 or 65 folks there, talking to them about the issues, who we are, what we represent, and giving them an alternative to some of the other candidates as well.
Leahy: What is it about you that’s the alternative? Because all the talk is you don’t have the same amount of money that a Beth Harwell has – former Speaker of the House – retired Brigadier General Kurt Winstead at Tennessee National Guard, or Mayor Andy Ogles.
So those are generally considered sort of the three frontrunners from a financial perspective. What do you offer voters and how are they responding to you?
Beierlein: Michael, that’s a great point. And to me, it’s not just about money, which is part of the reason I’m running. I’m astounded by some of the dollars that a lot of our competitors are pulling in, and I didn’t get in this for money, and that’s not going to be the one point I stand on.
I am a bit different from the other candidates. I’ve been told, well, you don’t have a record to run on, but I look at that a bit differently.
I’ve carried the water for this country for many years in some of the most difficult situations domestically and downrange. I spent five years of my life in other countries, from Honduras to South Korea, did two tours of Iraq.
I was a leader in the 101st Airborne in the Black Hawk unit. And we’ve done a bunch of different things on the business side as well: running healthcare units across multiple states, employing hundreds and hundreds of people, building businesses, training, employing, working through COVID, and providing care to thousands of patients.
So that sets me apart. I think I’m a heck of a lot more like some of the voters, and maybe somebody may have been a lobbyist or a bureaucrat, but at the end of the day, I’m very proud of my record. I’m proud of what we can do.
There are several leaders who have taken charge of our country who have done an excellent job; namely Donald Trump, and I think we need somebody from the outside to really drive change, Michael.
Leahy: You were a Black Hawk pilot, is that correct?
Beierlein: Yes, sir.
Leahy: What’s it like being a Black Hawk pilot?
Beierlein: People ask me all the time. I’m very proud of flying, but as a unit commander, I had 30 or 35 pilots by the time we went into Iraq and the same number of crew chiefs and enlisted men as well. Flying is great, but leading our men and women on a mission downrange is something I’m even more proud of about flying.
Leahy: So, can you talk about any of those missions? What sticks in your mind most about your time leading a combat unit in Iraq?
Beierlein: The ones that stand out the most are obviously the first ones, on the 23rd of March 2003 when we went across the berm not knowing what to expect. And it was a tragic day because we lost several folks before we even went in.
There was a fratricide event that occurred in an adjacent camp, where there was a Sergeant Akbar of the 101st, who threw some grenades into the tent and started shooting some of the soldiers from the 101st.
This was the morning we went in, so the day started off on a terrible note. It wasn’t bad when we went in. I think they took care of most of the air defense and then continued further. But the days that stand out the most are the days when everything went wrong.
A helicopter went down. We’ve got to rescue the crew. We’ve got to find other resources across the battlefield to get care for our soldiers.
And that’s where real leadership shows. And I’m proud of what we did. I’m proud more so of the sacrifice of my teammates and what we were able to accomplish.
Leahy: When you’re in combat, people are shooting at you. Do you have fear?
Beierlein: Of course, you have fear. You have anxiety. You’re not in the right mind if you’re not scared. But you know what’s going on. Now, this wasn’t a shoot-’em-up. This wasn’t anything like a Black Hawk Down or a video game or anything like that.
This is a much different side of combat. Most of the threats that we faced were bombs, mortars, IEDs, and things like that. And times when things got rocky I could always count on both the crew chiefs in the back of the helicopter manning the machine guns, the Apaches that would escort us, and the other entities that we had to protect each other. This is really a team effort.
Leahy: What’s your game plan to win this? You’ve got 29 days, 30 days, I guess until the election.
Beierlein: I know, time is running down. We have the big debate on the 12th, and I advocate for anyone listening. If they’ve got any interest, sign up for the debate, come down, be a part of the process.
Leahy: This is The Epoch Times debate. Just go to Eventbrite. It’s July 12, one week from today. You will be one of four people who have accepted, and I think they’ve sent out five invites. They’ll have subject matter experts there.
You go to Eventbrite. Put in The Epoch Times national debate. You can get a free ticket to that. So that’s number one. What else are you doing?
Beierlein: We’re doing a lot of things. We’re getting out, talking to people. There are several more events that we’re part of, including this Saturday morning, the 9th in Wilson County, so there’ll be a candidate forum for that.
Listen to the interview:
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