Mark Kirk bigraphy, stories - Senator from Illinois

Mark Kirk : biography

15 September 1959 -

Mark Steven Kirk (born September 15, 1959) is the junior United States Senator from Illinois and a member of the Republican Party. Previously, Kirk was a member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Illinois's 10th congressional district.

Born in Champaign, Illinois, he graduated from Cornell University, the London School of Economics, and Georgetown University Law Center. He practiced law throughout the 1980s and 1990s. He joined the United States Navy Reserve as a Direct Commission Officer in the Intelligence career field in 1989 and was recalled to active duty for the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. He participated in Operation Northern Watch in Iraq the following year. He remains a member of the Navy Reserve, now holding the rank of Commander.

Kirk was elected to the House in 2000. During his fifth term in November 2010 he won two concurrent elections: to finish the final months of former Senator Barack Obama's term and to serve the next six-year term. He was sworn in on November 29, 2010, and then began a six-year Senate term in January 2011.

In January 2012, Kirk suffered a stroke; he has been hospitalized, and his physicians expect long-term physical impairments but not cognitive ones.

On January 3, 2013, Kirk returned to work as Senator in Washington, D.C. almost a year after his stroke and climbed the steps of the U.S. Capitol. He was greeted by Joe Manchin, Dick Durbin, and Vice President Joe Biden, among others.

Military service

Kirk was commissioned as an intelligence officer in the United States Navy Reserve in 1989.

In 1999 Kirk was recalled to active duty in Operation Allied Force for the bombing of Yugoslavia. He served from to April 10 to June 6, 1999 as the intelligence officer of VAQ-209. VAQ-209 was combined with three other EA-6B squadrons to form an ad hoc unit called Electronic Attack Wing Aviano, Italy. VAQ-140 had tactical command of the combined unit. In May, 2000, the National Military Intelligence Association bestowed the organization's Vice Admiral Rufus L. Taylor Award to Intelligence Division Electronic Attack Wing Aviano, Italy.

In March and April, 2000 Kirk trained with an EC-130 squadron based in Turkey. Kirk took a flight over Iraq as part of Operation Northern Watch, which enforced a no fly zone over the northern section of Iraq.

Kirk has served three, two-week reserve deployments in Afghanistan, with the latest concluding in September 2011.

Awards

During his military career, Kirk has been awarded the following medals: the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, as well as the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, the Navy Unit Commendation, and the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation. He continues his service in the United States Navy Reserve holding the rank of Commander.

Kirk corrected claims he had made about being awarded "Navy Intelligence Officer of the Year" after it was brought to the media's attention by his Democratic opponent, Alexi Giannoulias. In a 2002 House committee hearing recorded by C-Span, Kirk said, "I was the Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year," an achievement he said gave him special qualifications to discuss national security spending. However, in May 2010, the Washington Post reported that Kirk's claim to having been named the Navy's “Intelligence Officer of the Year” was erroneous. The National Military Intelligence Association gave the Vice Admiral Rufus L. Taylor Award to the entire Intelligence Division Electronic Attack Wing at Aviano. Kirk was the lead intelligence officer for VAQ-209, one of the four squadrons assigned to the Electronic Attack Wing. VAQ-140 had tactical command. Kirk later apologized for this and other errors, including claims of having been fired upon during an aerial reconnaissance mission in Iraq, about which there is no official record, and of having participated in Operation Desert Storm when in fact he did not.

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