Today, retired Lt. Colonel Joe Repya issued the following statement on Barack Obama's cancelled visit to Ramstein and Landstuhl:
"The most solemn duty of a commander in chief is to fulfill his responsibility to the men and women who serve this country in uniform. Barack Obama had scheduled a visit with wounded American troops who have served with honor and distinction in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he broke that commitment, instead flitting from one European capital to the next. Several explanations were offered, none was convincing and each was at odds with the statements of American military leaders in Germany and Washington. For a young man so apt at playing president, Barack Obama badly misjudged the important demands of the office he seeks. Visits with world leaders and speeches to cheering Europeans shouldn't be a substitute for comforting injured American heroes."
Army Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Joe Repya served 30 years of duty and three wars, Vietnam, Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was born in 1946 in Gary, Indiana. He was the oldest son of a disabled combat wounded veteran of the European Campaign of World War II. Awarded an ROTC scholarship he attended Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI, graduating in 1969. Upon graduation he was appointed to the Regular Army as a Second Lieutenant in the Infantry. His 30 years of service in the US Army (12 years Active and 18 years in the National Guard & Reserves) lasted from 1969 until 2006. He served as a Combat Infantry Rifle Platoon Leader in Viet Nam in 1970/71 with the 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment (Band of Brothers "Currahee's"), and an Aero Rifle Platoon Leader with A Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment. In Desert Storm 1990/91, he served as a Combat Helicopter Pilot and Staff Officer with the 4th Brigade (Aviation), 1st Infantry Division (The Big Red One). He initially retired in 1998.
After the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, he was one of 12,000 US Army retirees who volunteered for Retiree Recall to Active US Army duty for Operation Iraqi Freedom. LTC Repya was selected as one of only 350 retirees who were returned to active duty status. At 58 years old on October 1, 2004 he returned as an Aviation Branch Officer for two more additional years of active duty service with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, KY. He served for nine months as the G-3 Air for the Division. In 2005 he served as the Senior Liaison Officer for the 101st Airborne Division with the Multi National Corps Headquarters at Camp Victory, Baghdad, Iraq. He reentered retired status at the end of September 2006 at the age of 60.