Washington — As the U.S. military responds to terrorist attacks on its nerve center at the Pentagon and on the World Trade Center, an Air Force general from Kansas City, Mo., is preparing to take the helm.
Gen. Richard Myers appeared Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee as lawmakers considered his nomination to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Senators from Kansas and Missouri helped shepherd his nomination.
Myers, 59, is a Kansas State University graduate, said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., a fellow K-State graduate.
"As important as being a fighting wildcat is," Roberts said, "the honor for me is to present a man I feel exceptionally qualified to prepare and lead our military as we deal with the emerging threats so tragically portrayed on the 11th of September."
Already the nation's No. 2 military officer as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Myers would be the first airman to head the military in nearly two decades if his nomination is confirmed by the full Senate.
A fighter pilot in Vietnam who has more than 4,000 flying hours of experience, Myers was squadron and fighter wing commander, eventually rising to commander of all U.S. forces in Japan.
After that three-year stint, Myers commanded the Pacific air forces from 1997 to 1998, then served as commander of the Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado from 1998-2000.
"As a distinguished warrior himself, he can relate to rigors and sacrifices endured by our servicemen and women today," said Sen. Jean Carnahan, D-Mo.
"He will inherit a post of paramount responsibility," Mrs. Carnahan said. "He is charged with taking on new battles and to deploying new weaponry against the current and insidious threats to our nation."