When he got the call from Sen. Joe Manchin, Richard Ojeda didn’t think he could make arrangements or get permission to go, but when he spoke to his commander, he was told to get ready and go.
There are only 450 people invited to attend the event. Ojeda said he would not have been one of those few if it had not been for LEAD. He believes Sen. Manchin had been watching what LEAD has been doing since last April.
“If it hadn’t been for the nine people who helped to start the program from nothing and do positive things, I wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity. If I could have gotten 50 more tickets, I would have brought everyone with me. It was a wonderful experience, an honor to even be thought of to do something like that.”
Ojeda says watching the gallery fill with the country’s leaders is “awesome.” He says he had a great seat, with a clear line of sight to the president.
Commander Chris Gibson, who is a highly-decorated veteran currently serving as a congressman for the state of New York, served with Ojeda at one time and he was excited to reunite with the commander he described as “a warrior, who earned a Silver Star, Purple Heart and was an awesome commander.”
Ojeda was in awe of Sen. Manchin, saying, “It takes a machine to do what he does. He goes from meeting to meeting to meeting and in between, he is out shaking hands and taking pictures. He is very nice; you can tell he is very nice person. He reminds me of a full-bird Colonel in combat.” He went on to say Manchin’s staff took good care of him and also works non-stop.
While he was in Washington, Ojeda toured the White House and says he got to go places and do things while he was there that ordinary people aren’t allowed to do.
He said it was the experience of a lifetime and he came back to Logan County ready to work.
“We are going to make Logan County the model because we can. Logan County has the potential. We’ve got the most beautiful mountains in the world here. I’ve been to 35 countries and the mountains here are the most beautiful. We have the Hatfield McCoy feud, the Battle of Blair Mountain, the Hatfield McCoy Trails and history. We have so much history in Logan County, people could come here over and over.”