Home

Texans Rally to Give Charlie Wilson His Due

Reps. Gene Green, D-Texas, and Michael McCaul, R-Texas, Wednesday were expected to kick-start the process to nominate fellow Lone Star Stater Rep. Charlie Wilson for a Congressional Gold Medal.  

Former Rep. Charles Wilson, D-Texas (left), was given a retirement roast by "Charlie Wilson's War" author George Crile at a ceremony in the Rayburn office building. It was attended by a variety of intelligence and diplomatic figures from around the world. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Wilson, left, was given a retirement roast by "Charlie Wilson's War" author George Crile at a ceremony in the Rayburn House Office Building. It was attended by a variety of intelligence and diplomatic figures from around the world. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The late 12-term pol, whose surreptitious activities were dramatized both in print and on the big screen as "Charlie Wilson's War," is perhaps best remembered for secretly aiding Afghan rebels in their war against the then-Soviet Union. Wilson orchestrated the clandestine arms program in conjunction with late CIA agent Gustav Avrakatos and coalition builder Joanne Herring. Ralph Benko, who told HOH he is serving as a pro-bono adviser to Herring’s Marshall Plan Charities, her latest freedom fighting initiative, said Houston Mayor Annise Parker reached out to the sitting members of Congress in the hopes of paying tribute to the larger-than-life lawmaker.  

The plan is to introduce a bill — a Green aide said McCaul had not yet formally signed onto the resolution, but had expressed interest in being involved — thanking the trio for their contribution to the anti-communist effort. Supporters, including Texas Republican Reps. Kay Granger and Ted Poe and Texas Democrat Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, are expected to attend the roll out at 5:30 p.m. in the Rayburn 2168.  

“Never in my life did I ever think anything was ever going to come of this,” Herring said of the swirling award talk.  

Although America’s enemies have evolved over the past few decades, Herring told HOH the U.S. government can defeat its modern opponents by returning to the bottom-up approach she and Wilson championed. “If we strengthen the villagers, they’ll get rid of the Taliban,” she counseled.  

“You saw what happened during the Cold War: Not a single American died,” Herring said, adding, “We gave them [the Afghan mujahedeen] everything — except our sons.”  

Any thanks, she stressed, deserves to be spread amongst everyone who participated in the bipartisan scheme — she took credit for bringing Republicans and Saudi businessmen to the table, and tipped her hat to Wilson for rounding up Democrats and the Israelis — to undermine Russian forces.  

“It really was a joint effort. And that’s what I want to see again,” she said.  

Which is why if any award ever does come to fruition, Herring said she fully intends to dedicate it right back to the Congress. “I can’t tell you how many people should be getting this medal,” she said.  

The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.