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Cotton Recognizes Arkansan of the Week: Jack Shatford

November 17, 2016

Contact: Caroline Rabbitt (202)224-2353

Washington, D.C.- Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) this week recognized Jack Shatford as "Arkansan of the Week." You can find the full text of Senator Cotton's recognition on the Senate Floor below. A video of Senator Cotton's remarks can be viewed here.

My Arkansan of the Week is Jack Shatford, and the recognition is both honorary and, sadly, posthumous. Jack passed away last month during one of his many hunting trips to Arkansas. He loved our state and its people, and we all miss him badly.

Jack first got to know Arkansas on the other side of the world in Vietnam. Jack and my dad, Len, served together in the same infantry squad there in 1969 and 1970. They became the closest of friends, a friendship that only grew over nearly a half century.

Jack was from Missouri, so he and Dad were able to see each other regularly, often on deer-hunting trips in Arkansas and duck- and goose-hunting trips in Missouri. He became like the brother my dad never had, a second son to my grandparents and Aunt Pood.

Jack also got to know my mom, Avis, just as my mom and dad got to know Jack's wife, Joy. Over time, my sister Sarah and I came along, and Jack and Joy became like uncle and aunt to us. Just like my parents felt about Kurt, Jack and Joy's son.

Some of my oldest memories are traveling to Missouri to see the Shatfords at places like Six Flags, Silver Dollar City, and Branson. And seeing how happy and excited my dad was in the days leading up to Jack's visits to Arkansas.

Jack was a lifelong hunter and outdoorsman; he worked for 34 years at the Missouri Department of Conservation. If it flew or ran or swam, you can pretty much bet that Jack knew how to find it, track it, kill it, and cook it. In fact, I have to confess Jack probably put more meat on the Cotton family table than Dad ever did. And he taught me a lot of lessons as well.

Not just about the outdoors, but about life. Jack helped me see some things through my dad's eyes, and I figure he probably did the same thing for my dad. Their example from Vietnam contributed to my decision to join the Army. That wasn't an easy time in the Cotton household, believe me. But Jack was there to help smooth things over, and he encouraged me all along the way.

Jack was a patriot. He'd put his life on the line to defend the country we love so much. I know from my dad's war stories that Jack was fearless and brave. But he was also gentle and outgoing, the kind of guy who makes fast friends. And he sure made a lot of friends in Dardanelle, where he was like an adopted son. He even belonged to our Yell County Wildlife Federation.

Above all, though, Jack was a loving family man, a devoted husband to Joy and father to Kurt and his wife Mary. And Jack was a doting grandpa to Sarah and Shelby. They'll miss Jack, as we all miss him so dearly.

The pain hasn't gone away yet, it won't for a while, and it may never. But with the pain we ought to be swelled with pride and gratitude to have known and loved such a fine man.

Jack Shatford, rest in peace, and follow me.