by Jim Nintzel
Gabby is on the move today:
U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is traveling to Washington today to attend tomorrow’s military retirement ceremony for her husband, Capt. Mark Kelly of the U.S. Navy.
Vice President Joe Biden will administer the retirement oath to Kelly and speak at the brief ceremony to be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, adjacent to the White House. Kelly also will make remarks.
Giffords, who is traveling from Houston to Washington with Kelly, is not expected to go to Capitol Hill or conduct any congressional business during this personal trip to support her husband. The congresswoman remains focused on her recovery and rigorous rehabilitation regimen and will return to Houston shortly after tomorrow’s ceremony.
There will be a print pool report available after the ceremony. The first photographs will be available on the congresswoman’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/GabrielleGiffords.
This is the sixth time Giffords has left Houston since arriving in January. In late April, she flew to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the planned launch of the space shuttle Endeavour, commanded by Kelly. Mechanical problems forced a launch delay and Giffords flew back to Florida two weeks later for the successful May 16 launch.
In mid-June, she came to Tucson for a two-day Father’s Day visit with her family. On Aug. 1 she flew to Washington, D.C. to vote in favor of legislation that avoided a default by the U.S. government. And on Sept. 2 she returned to Tucson for the Labor Day weekend.
Giffords was one of 19 people shot on Jan. 8 as she met with constituents at her Congress On Your Corner event in Northwest Tucson. Six people died and the congresswoman was treated at University Medical Center for a gunshot wound to the head.
She was flown to Houston on Jan. 21 and underwent intensive rehabilitation at TIRR Memorial Hermann. Giffords’ family selected that facility because it consistently has been recognized as one of the top-rated rehabilitation hospitals in the country.
Giffords was discharged from TIRR Memorial Hermann in June and immediately began her outpatient treatment.
Over the past seven months, the congresswoman has received regular updates from her staff on issues of importance to Southern Arizona and the nation.
Kelly received a B.S. degree in marine engineering and nautical science from the United States Merchant Marine Academy, graduating with highest honors in 1986. In 1994, he received an M.S. degree in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.
In December 1987, Kelly became a naval aviator and made two deployments to the Persian Gulf on the aircraft carrier USS Midway, flying 39 combat missions in Operation Desert Storm. He has logged more than 5,000 hours in more than 50 different aircraft and has over 375 carrier landings.
Kelly became a NASA astronaut in 1996 and made four trips into space aboard the space shuttle. He commanded three of those missions.
Mark Kelly has received numerous medals including the Defense Superior Service Medal (with one bronze oak leaf cluster); Distinguished Flying Cross; Air Medal (with valor device and three bronze service stars); Navy Commendation Medal (with valor device and one bronze service star) and the Navy Achievement Medal; Southwest Asia Service Medal (with one bronze service star).
He also has received the Navy Expeditionary Medal; National Defense Service Medal (with one bronze service star); Navy Unit Commendation (with one bronze service star); Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (with one bronze service star); Overseas Service Ribbon; Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia); Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait); NASA Exceptional Service Medal and NASA Space Flight Medal (with three bronze service stars).
At tomorrow’s retirement ceremony, he will be awarded the Legion of Merit and the Distinguished Flying Cross medals.
Among those attending the ceremony will be NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Under Secretary of the Army Joseph William Westphal and Vice-Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mark E. Ferguson.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Adam Smith, Erik Paulsen and Pete Olson as well as retired U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton will also be present.