State Journal-Register

May 16, 2001

President promotes West Point graduate Shimkus to Lieutenant Colonel in Army Reserve 


WASHINGTON - President Bush pinned a silver oak leaf on Rep. John Shimkus' shoulder Tuesday, promoting him to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves.

The commander in chief presided over a brief private Oval Office ceremony witnessed by Shimkus' wife and their three young sons.

"It was pretty special," Shimkus acknowledged afterward.

Shimkus was notified of his promotion last month. He said he requested the White House ceremony to call attention to the thousands of men and women in the reserves and the sacrifices they make.

It was his first time inside the Oval Office and the first time he's been at the White House since Bush moved in.

White House officials contacted Shimkus Friday to say his request to hold the promotion ceremony there had been granted. His wife, Karen, and their three sons, ages 8 and 6 years and 19 months, flew to Wahington from Collinsville. The boys each carried a book they hoped Bush would sign.

Bush penned "a nice note" to all three of the boys and gave them each a roll of presidential Lifesavers that he pulled out of his desk, Shimkus said. His toddler son was running around the Oval Office trying to grab things, his father reported.

In addition to his family, Major General Thomas Plewes, chief of the Army Reserves, and Brigadier General Dan Kaufman, dean of the academic board at West Point, were present.

Shimkus is a 1980 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. He spent five years in the Army, including three years in Bamberg, West Germany, before joining the reserves in 1986.

He is a non-drilling reservist, a status known as Individual Ready Reserve. He's not paid but can continue to accrue points toward retirement. Shimkus meets every Wednesday night on Capitol Hill with others who are in the Army Reserves. They receive briefings from military officials. Shimkus also lectures several days each year at West Point.

He's one of just three House members in the Army Reserves. The others are Reps. Greg Ganske, R-Iowa, and Steve Buyer, R-Ind. Newly elected Rep. Rob Simmons, R-Conn., retired from the reserves before he joined Congress.