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Giffords traveling to D.C. for husband's retirement
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Giffords traveling to D.C. for husband's retirement

  • Giffords and Kelly
    courtesy Giffords' officeGiffords and Kelly

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is traveling to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to attend a ceremony marking her husband's retirement from the military.

U.S. Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, a former space shuttle astronaut, will take the retirement oath in a ceremony presided over by Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday.

"Giffords, who is traveling from Houston to Washington with Kelly, is not expected to go to Capitol Hill or conduct any congressional business during this personal trip to support her husband," said her spokesman, Mark Kimble, in a news release.

"The congresswoman remains focused on her recovery and rigorous rehabilitation regimen and will return to Houston shortly after tomorrow’s ceremony," Kimble said.

The ceremony is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday, and is to be held in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, adjacent to the White House.

This is the sixth time Giffords has left Houston since she was flown there for rehabilitation after being shot in the head in January.

In late April, she flew to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the planned launch of the space shuttle Endeavour, commanded by Kelly. Mechanical problems forced a launch delay and Giffords flew back to Florida two weeks later for the successful May 16 launch.

In mid-June, she came to Tucson for a two-day Father’s Day visit with her family. On Aug. 1 she flew to Washington, D.C., to vote in favor of extending the federal debt ceiling. And on Sept. 2 she returned to Tucson for the Labor Day weekend.

Kelly's service

From the press release from Giffords' office:

Kelly received a B.S. degree in marine engineering and nautical science from the United States Merchant Marine Academy, graduating with highest honors in 1986. In 1994, he received an M.S. degree in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.

In December 1987, Kelly became a naval aviator and made two deployments to the Persian Gulf on the aircraft carrier USS Midway, flying 39 combat missions in Operation Desert Storm. He has logged more than 5,000 hours in more than 50 different aircraft and has over 375 carrier landings.

Kelly became a NASA astronaut in 1996 and made four trips into space aboard the space shuttle. He commanded three of those missions.

Mark Kelly has received numerous medals including the Defense Superior Service Medal (with one bronze oak leaf cluster); Distinguished Flying Cross; Air Medal (with valor device and three bronze service stars); Navy Commendation Medal (with valor device and one bronze service star) and the Navy Achievement Medal; Southwest Asia Service Medal (with one bronze service star).

He also has received the Navy Expeditionary Medal; National Defense Service Medal (with one bronze service star); Navy Unit Commendation (with one bronze service star); Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (with one bronze service star); Overseas Service Ribbon; Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia); Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait); NASA Exceptional Service Medal and NASA Space Flight Medal (with three bronze service stars).

At tomorrow's retirement ceremony, he will be awarded the Legion of Merit and the Distinguished Flying Cross medals.

Among those attending the ceremony will be NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Under Secretary of the Army Joseph William Westphal and Vice-Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mark E. Ferguson, Kimble said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Adam Smith, Erik Paulsen and Pete Olson as well as retired U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton will also be present.

A memoir by Giffords and Kelly, "Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope," is scheduled for release on Nov. 15.

A TV special on ABC is scheduled to air the evening before the book's release. Although the network touted "a landmark television event" in a press release, saying "Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Space Shuttle Commander Mark Kelly will share their remarkable story for the first time since the tragic shootings" in "a broadcast exclusive," the congresswoman had not decided whether to give an on-camera interview, her spokesman said last month.

Jan. 8

Giffords was shot in what authorities charge was an assassination attempt at a "Congress On Your Corner" meet-and-greet with constituents at a Northwest Side grocery story. Six were killed and 13 wounded in the shooting rampage, including the congresswoman.

Jared Lee Loughner, 22 at the time of the attack, was charged with 49 counts by federal prosecutors. 14 of the charges could potentially result in a death sentence.

Last week, a federal judge ruled that Loughner should be returned to a Missouri prison facility where doctors have been attempting to restore his ability to stand trial. Loughner has been given anti-psychotic medication against his will.

His return to the federal prison hospital in Springfield, Mo., has been delayed pending an appeal.

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