The Lyndon B. Johnson room in the Capitol building where Phi Tau’s gather is not large but it’s ornate; from floor to ceiling the room is decorated in crimson, golds, and furnished with paintings, a towering glass mirror, and a golden chandelier. The idea to hold an alumni reception in collaboration with the following day’s National Council meeting had been decided a month earlier when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Louisville ’61, had suggested that a Phi Tau reception could be hosted in the Capitol building. It was a great opportunity to have an early Founders Day celebration and on March 13th, local alumni made their way to Washington to celebrate in one of the most iconic buildings of the city.
There were over 90 guests in attendance from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and other surrounding states. Besides the location, one of the great allures of the event was the attendance of four Phi Tau Hall of Fame members, all of whom work in Washington, D.C. We were joined first by Leader Mitch McConnell, fresh off a vote on the Senate floor. He spoke to the crowd of guests about the current political atmosphere, drew a few laughs, then declared “I’m proud to be a Phi Tau.
After Leader McConnell finished, CEO Tim Hudson, Truman ’97, National President Bill Brasch, Louisville ’67, and I travel back to McConnell’s office. Nearly everything in the Capitol is red, gold, or deep brown and McConnell’s office is no exception; it’s a beautiful room with old oak flooring and a large white stone fireplace that is the Leaders choice for a photo backdrop. On the wall there are portraits of Teddy Roosevelt, George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush.
We were joined by Mississippi 1st District Representative Trent Kelly, Ole Miss ’87. Before being elected to the House of Representatives in 2015, Trent Kelly worked as a private lawyer for nearly a decade before becoming a city prosecutor. Following that, he was elected district attorney in 2011. Prior to his tenure as a lawyer, Representative Kelly had an extensive career in the Army Reserves which began during his undergraduate days. In the 1990s, he served as a Major during both Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield. He was promoted to Brigadier General in 2018, a position he still holds.
Also joining us was Brigadier General Terry Williams, UCLA ’87, another Phi Tau with an outstanding military career. After officer training through the Platoon Leaders Course, General Williams became a Combat Engineer at Camp Lejeune and deployed to Okinawa with the Third Marine Division, where he did a number of deployments around southwest Asia. For his second enlistment, General Williams served at MCRD San Diego where he was a Series Officer, commanding a platoon of Drill Instructors. He went on to be commanding General of MCRD Parris Island where he was simultaneously Eastern Recruiting Regions Commanding General before deploying to Afghanistan for a year. Now, he is the Director of Strategy and Plans Division at the Pentagon in Washington.
Representative Kelly was inducted into the Phi Kappa Tau Hall of Fame 2018 class in Cleveland and General Williams was inducted into the 2016 class in Sacramento. In Leader McConnell’s office - a 2006 inductee himself - they were presented with their Hall of Fame plaques.
Senator John Barrasso, Rensselaer ’71, from Wyoming joined us at the end of the night to receive the Borradaile Alumnus Award for excellence in his chosen field of endeavor. Senator Barrasso, a physician by trade, attended Georgetown Medical School and completed his residency at Yale. After finishing his residency in 1983, Barrasso moved to Wyoming where he would eventually become the Chief of Staff at the Wyoming Medical Center and State President of the Wyoming Medical Society. In 2002 he was elected to the Wyoming Senate. He was appointed to the United States Senate in 2007 and has served since. He was admitted to the Phi Tau Hall of Fame in 2008.
You can read more about Leader McConnell, General Williams, and Representative Kelly’s exemplary careers and relationship to Phi Tau in the upcoming edition of The Laurel, where they have been featured, expected to hit mailboxes in April. You can opt-in to receive The Laurel here.
The following day members of the National Council gathered for their spring 2019 meeting in downtown DC. Thank you to all of our members and their guest who attended to make it a memorable night!
View photos of the event here.