For the second July in a row, almost to the day, Gov. Jay Nixon is in Iraq meeting with Missouri troops.
Nixon's just recently announced that the governor left Jefferson City on Monday and, after a short stop in Washington, headed overseas with four other governors as part of a Pentagon-organized trip. Last year's tour also included a visit to Afghanistan.
Others making this year's trip are: Gov. Jim Douglas (R) of Vermont, Gov. Deval Patrick (D) of Massachusetts, Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) of Minnesota and Gov. Mike Rounds (R) of South Dakota. Pawlenty is a likely GOP candidate for president in 2012.
According to Nixon's staff: "After a briefing at the Pentagon from Department of Defense and State Department officials, Gov. Nixon met with injured service members at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He left Andrews Air Force Base in Washington on Tuesday (July 20) and arrived in Baghdad earlier today."
The governors "had lunch with service members at Camp Victory; spoke with Lt. Gen. Kenneth Hunzeker, deputy commander of U.S. forces in Iraq; participated in a hands-on demonstration of a mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicle; and had a barbecue with U.S. troops at Al Faw Palace."
Said Nixon in a statement: "I join my fellow Missourians in being immensely proud of the accomplishments of our troops in bringing stability and democracy to Iraq. I am especially proud of how our Missouri National Guard soldiers have been a big part of this mission. It has been an honor to meet with our troops to pass along news from home and let them know we’re thinking about them and praying for their continued safety."
Nixon's staff said they were barred by the Defense Department from making public any particulars about the governor's schedule, including the length of his trip.
Last year's overseas trip lasted six days, including the stop in Afghanistan.
This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon.