Air Force colonel lands at Legislature

Above: Sen. Tommy Garrett attends a Denver Broncos game with son Tommy and daughters Hannah (left) and Maude.

Born on Kessler Air Force Base in Mississippi, Sen. Tommy Garrett began life as a self-described “Air Force brat” and has been on the move ever since. It was the beginning of a nomadic life that took the retired colonel around the world before landing at the Nebraska State Capitol as the newest member of the Unicameral.

The military has been central to Garrett’s entire life story. His father was drafted into the service during WWII and met wife Rosa after the war while stationed in Germany. Even the senator’s name has a military provenance: Garrett was named after the two sons of his father’s WWII buddy: Tommy and Lee.

After his father’s death when Garrett was 13, the family settled in Colorado where he graduated from high school. Garrett went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in business management from Colorado State University, a master’s degree in international relations from Troy State University and a master’s degree in national security strategy from the National War College.

This background served Garrett well during his time in the Air Force where he earned the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (twice), Bronze Star and Meritorious Service Medal (six times). He served in a variety of locations, including Germany, Bahrain, Korea, Saudi Arabia and the Pentagon.

Garret has been married to his wife Julie for 36 years. Calling her “indefatigable,” Garrett said they and their three children moved 17 times during his 26 years in the Air Force.

Now retired from the Air Force, Garrett owns a small business headquartered in Bellevue that specializes in defense contracting.

When asked what was his favorite place during his years of travels, Garrett did not hesitate. “It may sound cliché, but I have to say Nebraska. After moving so many times, Nebraska became home. We’ve lived here longer than anywhere else, and we truly love Nebraska.”

Garret was appointed by the governor in December to replace former Sen. Scott Price, who resigned. He represents legislative district 3, which includes Bellevue and a part of Papillion. Garrett said he is deeply honored to be able to serve in the Nebraska Legislature.

“I’ve always had a passion for public service,” Garrett said. “I had long thought I would run for elective office when I retired.”

The first few weeks in office have been eye-opening, he said. “I always knew that there were two sides to every story,” Garrett said. “Now I’m realizing that there is also a third, fourth and fifth side to every issue.”

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