Mr. Speaker, Darren Ellisor’s childhood dream was to become a pilot. Growing up in Clear Lake, Texas as the son of a NASA contractor, he attended the Wings over Houston air show each year, went on tours of NASA, and watched in fascination as the space shuttles flew into the sky, disappearing into the final frontier.
After visiting the United States Air Force Academy as a young teenager, Ellisor’s dream suddenly seemed within grasp. He became determined to enroll at the Academy and become an Air Force pilot.
However, as his high school graduation neared, Ellisor failed to receive his long- sought appointment to the Air Force Academy. Disappointed, he knew he could not allow this setback deter him from pursuing his dream.
Instead, he refocused his efforts, attending Valley Forge Military Academy and College in Pennsylvania for a year. After applying to his dream school a second time, he finally received his acceptance to the prestigious Air Force Service Academy.
After graduating from the Academy and undergoing extensive pilot training, Ellisor served as an E–3 AWACS pilot until retiring from the Air Force in 2007. His service brought him to the skies of Germany, where he led multi-national crews comprised of airmen from 13 NATO countries in peace keeping missions over the skies of Kosovo.
He went on to protect and defend American airspace after 9/11 and took part in multiple operations in the Middle East during the War on Terror.
Ellisor has long been someone who has helped others. During his time in the Air Force, he served as the Assistant Director of Operations of the 552nd Training Squadron, training over 300 young air crewmen during his tenure.
After his retirement from the Air Force, he formed a small business, Service Academy Consulting, in order to help high school students with dreams like his attend one of the elite service academies.
Ellisor selfless side showed itself again last week when he and Tammie Jo Shults saved 148 lives as their commercial airplane suddenly seemed to fall from the sky. On a seemingly ordinary day, First Officer Darren Ellisor and Pilot Tammie Jo Shults prepared for take- off, all systems a go.
Shortly after takeoff, Southwest Airlines flight 1380’s left engine exploded. Ellisor and Shults’s military training kicked in, calmly bringing the plane to low altitude, and the duo eventually landed the plane safely in Philadelphia.
Mr. Speaker, Air Force veteran and Southwest Airlines pilot Darren Ellisor has a storied career serving our great Nation in the United States Airforce. His dedication to his country and aid in what could have been a disastrous situation are commendable. He truly embodies what it means to be a great American.
And that’s just the way it is.