April 1, 2011
Following the Air Force Academy's rifle team's regular season and NCAA Rifle Championships, Academy senior Tom Chandler (Waco, Texas, formally of Oak Harbor, Wash.) had an appointment in Washington, D.C., March 24-26, to meet with the Center of the Studies of the Presidency and Congress. Chandler was one of two cadets (C1C Amber Sells) the Air Force Academy sponsors annually for this very prestigious program. While in Washington, D.C., he visited the White House to present his research, titled: Going International: Nuclear Policy in the Post-Modern Presidency. One of his stops in D.C., included dinner with Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"The trip went very well. The first night there I was able to have dinner with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Retired Senator John Warner (R-VA) and the Japanese Ambassador to the United States," said Chandler. The next day at the White House, Chandler talked with a panel of four White House fellows about nuclear policy that highly encouraged (Chandler) to continue research on the topic well into graduate school.
The research will be published with other students' articles from across the country into an annual anthology that will be delivered to the White House this summer. The D.C. trip also consisted of panel speakers about issues that included from national security, health care and the world's perspective of U.S. Global Leadership.
Before returning to the Academy, Chandler had a chance to pose for pictures at the White House with other service-academy cadets and the admiral.
While Chandler may have thought his time had come to an end in Washington, D.C., his encounters had not. "On my return flight home I was waiting in the Reagan terminal in a very crowded area. I had been reading through a book for my Supreme Court class and took out my pen to circle a particular case being discussed in the book. From out of the blue a gentleman next to me leaned over and commented, `That was a very important time in the court's history.' "Very concerned as to who this eavesdropper was I turned my head to see the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, John Roberts, sitting next to me and noticing the highlights I had been making in my book."
Certainly, Chandler may have been stunned to find an eavesdropper seated next to him in the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, this was a chance encounter of his lifetime.
"I was stunned beyond all belief and could barely get out any words at first," said Chandler. "The Chief Justice and I talked for about 5-7 minutes on various topics. Before we went our separate ways, I pulled out the pocket Constitution I had and asked for his signature. He wrote a very nice note and addressed it "John Roberts Jr.""
The senior credits his professors in the political science department (Dr. Paul Carrese, Colonel Cheryl Kearney and Maj. Matt Van Hook) for getting him into the D.C. program and were crucial in the writing process of the research paper.
Chandler earned five All-American titles in the smallbore and air rifle at the Academy. Chandler is one of four Academy marksmen to earn five or more All-American honors in both weapons since 1997. The first was Jim Meger, class of 1992 (seven) followed by Robin Orth, class of 1996 (six) and Daniel Pempel, class of 1997 (five).
Chandler qualified for the national championship at the NCAA Qualifiers match in February with a 580 in the smallbore. He concluded his athletic competitive-shooting career with a career high 589 in smallbore and 595 in air rifle. His career-high aggregate is 1,747, which came at the 2008 Olympic Air Trials (581, 581, and 585).
In May 2011, Chandler, a member of Cadet Squadron 23, will graduate from the Air Force Academy and begin his career in the Air Force at Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas, for pilot training.
While this legislative hopeful and soon to be second lieutenant, who is majoring in political science, is still waiting to hear back about the World Class Athlete Program, and the Air Force Shooting Team, his long term goals are graduate school, USAFA instructor, and possibly the chance to serve as a Legislative or White House Liaison. And as for the movie title reference to a 1939 James "Jimmy" Stewart movie, "Jimmy Stewart is one of my favorite actors," Chandler said. "Mr. Smith goes to Washington is one of the movies that got me interested in politics years ago."