Jeff Latas

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Strong Leadership for South Eastern Arizona

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Jeff Latas was born January 10, 1958 in Wichita, Kansas, the third of four children. His father was a teacher who couldn't make ends meet teaching, so he became a stillman in an oil refinery and joined the union. Jeff's mother worked in various clerical jobs while raising her family. Jeff was captain of the football team at East High and played football at Wichita State University. He moved to Tucson in 1978. Jeff worked as a construction carpenter and attended Pima Community College while he established residency, and then enrolled at the University of Arizona as an aerospace engineering major. He continued to work his way through school as a ranch hand and as a service station attendant.



Jeff was accepted into the Air Force ROTC program at the U of A, and upon graduation, he was commissioned into the United States Air Force as a Second Lieutenant and was assigned to attend pilot training in Columbus, Mississippi. Jeff completed pilot training as one of the top students in his class, and received his first choice assignment to fly F-111s at Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, New Mexico. Jeff's second assignment was as an instructor in T-38s at Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas, where his students voted him to receive the Outstanding Instructor award. During his tour at Laughlin, Jeff was selected to serve as an evaluator of local first responders as part of the Base Exercise Evaluation Team. Jeff was then selected to be one of the first 100 pilots to fly the F-15E "Strike Eagle." He returned to Arizona for a summer for training at Luke Air Force Base. Jeff's first assignment in the F-15E was to the 336th "Rocketeers" Fighter Squadron at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, North Carolina. On August 9, 1990, Jeff deployed with his squadron to Oman in support of Operation Desert Shield. Just before the start of Operation Desert Storm, the 336th moved to Al Karj Air Base in Saudi Arabia. Jeff flew 38 official combat missions and remained in theatre for nearly 8 months.

Jeff returned to Saudi Arabia twice with the Rocketeers in support of Operation Southern Watch, living in the now-famous Khobar Towers at Dhahran Air Base. During his tour of duty in North Carolina, he also served as a founding member of the Communities in Schools (CIS) of Wayne County, which operated the Teen Health Corps at Goldsboro High School, Teen Court in Wayne County, the Great Leaps supplemental reading program, and other tutoring and mentoring programs.

Jeff's next assignment was to the Pentagon, where he handled requirements for weapon modernization programs. Many of those weapons are now produced in Tucson. Jeff served as a member of the Quadrennial Defense Review in 1996. During his tour of duty at the Pentagon, he also served as president of the PTA at Shrevewood Elementary School in Falls Church, Virginia, and completed a Master's degree in Public Administration, with honors.

Jeff returned to flying the F-15E with an assignment to the 391st "Flying Tigers" fighter squadron at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. He returned to southwest Asia twice more with the Flying Tigers, once in support of Operation Southern Watch in Kuwait, and once in support of Operation Northern Watch in Turkey. During this time, Jeff was also selected to become an Accident Investigation Board president. Finally, he was able to transfer back to his beloved southern Arizona to work as a Flight Evaluator for the 12th Air Force at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson.

Jeff's exemplary military record includes nearly 5000 hours in fighter aircraft, the Distinguish Flying Cross for Heroism, Four Air Medals, and Four Meritorious Service Medals.

Upon retiring from the Air Force in December 2002, Jeff was immediately hired by JetBlue Airways as a pilot. He upgraded to Captain in 2005.

A life long Democrat, Jeff is now a resident of Oro Valley. He is married with two children. Jeff's wife of nearly 26 years, Salette, is also a U of A grad, and currently owns Vistoso Media, a small business in Oro Valley. Daughter Virginia is a 2005 graduate of the University of Arizona and works at Tucson Avian Rescue and Adoption (TARA) Bird Clinic. Son Jesse graduated from Canyon del Oro High School in 2003 after a year-long battle with leukemia, attended Pima College and the U of A, and is currently a soldier with Tucson's own 208th Transportation Company, United States Army Reserve, and is now serving in Iraq.

Although Jeff has a strong military background, his true passion is environmental protection through sound energy policy. Based on his education in aerospace engineering and his experience in program management in the USAF, Jeff's expertise is in using technology to solve problems. Jeff believes that the United States must achieve energy independence, not only from foreign oil imports, but from all fossil fuels. Our country faces many problems from Middle Eastern oil imports. We are a country at war, due primarily to our need for oil and the policies of past administrations that have inflamed the people of Southwest Asia. We need a leader like Jeff Latas, who understands new technology and the people of Southwest Asia. By achieving energy independence we will be taking great strides in freeing our environment from pollutants and damage caused by over dependence on fossil fuels.

Jeff ran for Congress in the 8th District, but he lost the primary to Gabrielle Giffords, see Arizona U.S. House election, 2006. He is one of the Fighting Dems.

External Links

  • Latas for Congress - campaign website
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