McDonnell’s “masterpiece fighting jet,” the F-4 Phantom, rolled off the production line in December 1960, as a fleet defender built to intercept nuclear foes. Delivered to Miramar Naval Air Station, the jet was eventually bound for nearly four decades of service in the U.S. military.
For a rookie pilot, the F-4 could be a little hard to handle, its two-seater capacity requiring a little more of a team effort than fighter pilots were used to; and a nose that rose notoriously slowly off the deck of an aircraft carrier. For those of us who know nothing about planes, let alone what Mach 1 or 2 mean, a slow-going-nose doesn’t sound like much. But for Colonel Gregory G. Raths, USMC (RET) it was as much of a trial as any: with a bit of speed, that slow nose could over rotate to a stall. A rather rude initiation to the Marine Corps, if you ask me.
Luckily, meeting Col. Raths is nothing like stalling out over the deck of a 45,000 ton aircraft carrier, even though his sights are currently set on becoming a U.S. Congressman this year - perhaps a task equal to lifting off the deck in a multi-million dollar war machine.
A charming, well-spoken man, the Colonel speaks lovingly of his parents, and the four brothers and three sisters he grew up with in Phoenix, Arizona. The fifth of eight children, Col. Raths had an early view into the life of a serviceman. His father served in the Army Air Corps from 1941-1945, as a bomber pilot during WWII, and flew combat in the European theatre in the A-20, a night fighter and adaptable light bomber mostly used by the Allied forces in World War II. His mother stayed home full time with the family, keeping the household running.
“As a kid, I mowed lawns, delivered handbills, went door to door selling anything from light bulbs to Christmas lights,” he says. Each step around the neighborhood was a step towards a life of service: to his community first as an Eagle Scout, class president, and multi-sport athlete, and eventually to his country - joining the Marine Corps Officer Candidate Program in 1972 after his freshman year at Arizona State University (ASU).
“Why am I running for Congress? The answer is quite simple. ... We have a government with a 6% approval rating from the American people. Six percent. Congress members even now are receiving pay raises and huge benefits when Social Security recipients have not received a cost of living increase in 3 of the last 7 years. Hospital bills are rising. We need to make a decisive move.” -
Col. Gregory G. Raths
Enduring summer training at Quantico during the summers of 1973 and 1974, Col. Raths also received his Bachelor's Degree in Business in 1975. By the time he graduated flight school in Pensacola, FL, “Vietnam was over, and the military began drawing down its forces, and reducing its budgets. My first assignment was in Orange County, CA - at El Toro Marine Corps Air Station.”
Closed now, El Toro was long part of the vision of a developing community - a vision that Col. Raths would like to see brought back to American towns. Dwight Whiting, Boston-born founder of the town of El Toro, helped establish the first church, negotiated the arrival of the Santa Fe railroad through the valley, and saw the future of the community in its gentleman farmers: working hard and living off the wealth and proceeds of their walnut and apricot groves. Replaced now by shopping malls and a new town moniker, the vision Whiting and Col. Raths share for the country is fading, and Col. Raths believes it is time for a change.
“The American people have had enough,” he says. “We have been deceived, betrayed by our elected officials. We need new leaders with honesty and integrity” - two traits Col. Raths learned en force through his tours aboard the USS Midway, and later as squadron commander off the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. “Washington D.C. has proven its ineptitude, and we must not allow this dreadful sequence to continue.”
His new assignment is a personal one: One he believes must be based on solutions, not politics as usual. Courage, rather than the opinion of a special interest group, or the hope of reelection.
Col. Raths has no aspirations to become a career politician - he’s already completed a 30 year military career and spent the past twelve years in the private sector as a commercial airline pilot, president of an automobile parts distribution firm, and is currently an author and publisher. He volunteers within his community of Mission Viejo as a member of the Elks Lodge, the Rotary Club, American Legion, VFW, St. Kilian Knights of Columbus and serves as President of the Board of Directors for the charity Patriots and Paws, a nonprofit organization that provides companion dogs, furniture and home goods to veterans and active duty members at no cost.
He is running for office because he simply believes that “a drastically new course for this nation must be drafted" and is committed to leading that charge on behalf of his friends, neighbors and fellow citizens in California's 45th Congressional District.
A SENIOR FOR SENIORS
When asked what types of current policy he sees as going in the wrong direction that he would correct if elected to office, Col. Raths points to the "fiscal mismanagement of programs such as Medicare and Social Security."
"Why are members of Congress receiving pay raises and huge benefits when Social Security recipients have not received a cost of living increase in 3 of the last 7 years?" he asks. "Medicare co-payments, prescriptions and hospital bills are skyrocketing. I will focus on our seniors and see that they are taken care of.
“Why am I running for Congress? The answer is quite simple. We have a government with a 6% approval rating from the American people. Six percent. We need new leaders who are not worried about the next election or pleasing special interests groups. We can't count on the same politicians who got us into this mess to get us out. There is only one special interest group I am interested in serving: the people of the 45th Congressional District."
Col. Raths brings a unique experience and perspective to negotiating Washington’s political scene. Serving as Chief of Staff of the White House Military Office during Clinton’s administration taught Raths much about how career politicians function, and he’d like to be a force that changes those functions.
At Mach speeds, most modern aircraft must compromise in order to maintain handling ability. Supersonic speeds create shock waves, and the stronger the shock wave is, the greater the pressure difference, which causes a sonic boom. While those outside the cockpit are witness to the boom, those inside the aircraft cannot hear it. America is at the edge of Mach speed right now, cruising into the path of governmental dependence and the “damaging impact of complacency and apathy.” Col. Raths would like to take back the controls.
Overseeing military support from the White House is no small task, especially after serving in the military at such a volatile and unpopular time, and Raths is all too familiar with the stresses and victories surrounding military legislation coming from Congress.
He would like to make it clear that his next battle is back in Washington, fighting for the people of the 45th Congressional District where he’d like to “fix the mess that has been created by politicians invested in maintaining their power, rather than doing what they know is right based on the principles that made this nation great to begin with.”
For our future and that of our children and grandchildren: the time to survey the scene has passed. Start those engines, ladies and gentlemen.
Content approved by Supporters for Gregory G. Raths for Congress.