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Sessions cites Hartselle soldier during debate on Iraq war

By Deangelo McDaniel 340-2469

HARTSELLE — Hartselle Utilities General Manager Ferrell Vest and his wife, Beth, never expected their son to be referenced on the U.S. Senate floor in a debate about the Iraq war.

But, that's what happened moments after the father talked with Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile.

"It wasn't about agreeing or disagreeing with the war," Vest said. "I just told him if they were going to send my son to a war, they needed to support him."

While debating a non-binding resolution against President Bush's decision to send additional troops to Iraq, Sessions said he met earlier in the day with an Alabama man whose son is a first lieutenant in the Army at Fort Benning.

"He thanked me for not supporting the negative resolution," the senator said.

Sessions made the speech Feb. 7, moments after meeting with a Hartselle delegation that was in Washington, D.C., to push the city's $20 million agenda.

"He asked if I could use what I told him," Vest said.

The delegation was to meet with Sessions in his office, but the senator asked them to come to the U.S. Capitol because he didn't want to lose his turn to speak on the resolution.

Vest said they met with the senator for about 25 minutes near the Senate floor.

Near the end of the meeting, Vest pulled the senator aside and told him about his son.

That son is Tyler Ferrell Vest, a 2002 Hartselle High graduate and 2006 University of Alabama graduate with a degree in criminal justice.

Tyler Vest is a second lieutenant in officer training school at Fort Benning, Ga. The Army has assigned him to the 25th Infantry, 2nd Brigade at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.

"This is a rotational unit, and when their time comes up, they will have to go to Iraq," the father said.

Ferrell Vest, who retired in 1995 after serving 20 years in the military, served five times in Bosnia and coordinated air strikes for Operation Night Flight.

He said his son enrolled in ROTC at Alabama and went to officer school after graduation knowing that he would probably serve in Iraq.

As a father and former serviceman, Vest said, having the conversation with Sessions was simple.

"I didn't take a political stance, and I didn't get into the rights and wrongs of the war," he said. "I just simply told them that if they are going to send our troops over there, they should support them."

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