Steamboat Springs Jack McEncroe brings passion and conviction borne of service to his country when he speaks about the U.S. Constitution and his belief that all Americans must be prepared to defend their freedoms against enemies at home and abroad.
"It's time to get back to basics - our founding documents," McEncroe said Wednesday. "It is our duty as Americans to ensure our founding documents are adhered to."
McEncroe, a former U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot who flew more than 350 missions in the Laotian theater during the Vietnam War, was speaking to the Routt County Republican Central Committee. However, in the big picture, his intended audience is students in elementary, middle and high schools.
His talk to the Central Committee was a means of spreading the word about his availability.
McEncroe, who has had a home here for many years, is affiliated with the Joe Foss Institute, which enlists military veterans to spread the patriotic message of the need to defend constitutionally protected freedoms that Americans enjoy.
"I've given presentations to fourth-graders, eighth-graders and high school students, many of them in (California's) Coachella Valley," McEncroe said.
He added that after speaking to one class of high school students in California, the teacher followed up to say that several of the students had been motivated by his presentation to enlist in the Marines.
Foss was a legendary Marine fighter pilot and one of the most prolific aces of World War II. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
His career was remarkably diverse. Foss served as the governor of South Dakota from 1954 to 1958. Beginning in 1959, he was the first commissioner of the American Football League for seven years, playing a role in establishing the Super Bowl and helping the old AFL merge with the NFL to become the American Football Conference, or the AFC football fans know today.
Later, he hosted the weekly "American Sportsman" TV show on ABC.
McEncroe was attracted to the Foss Institute's "Veterans Inspiring Patriotism" program, which matches veterans and active duty members of the military with interested schools and teachers.
The Foss Institute vets the vets by confirming their service records, then trains them to introduce a video, give their personal testimony and answer questions from students. The institute produced several videos to ensure they are age-appropriate for different grade levels, McEncroe told his audience.
Interested parents and educators should not contact McEncroe directly, he said, but instead phone the Institute's Sally Cecil at 480-348-0316.