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Black Hawk Down hero to speak at Farm Bureau convention

va-farm-bureauA survivor of the battle depicted in the book and movie Black Hawk Down will draw from his experiences in Somalia with the 3rd Ranger Battalion to inspire participants attending the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention.

Keni Thomas, a combat veteran of the 75th Ranger Regiment and current country music artist, will speak during a Dec. 2 luncheon at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott. His motivational speech, titled “Get It On! What It Means to Lead the Way,” draws from his experiences serving with a special operations unit in Somalia in 1993. Thomas and his fellow Rangers distinguished themselves in an 18-hour firefight that was the worst urban combat seen by U.S. troops since World War II.

Leadership is at the core of every Ranger’s training, but leadership is a team effort. Thomas will tell attendees how everyone is affected by their actions and each team is a puzzle with invaluable pieces.

Thomas serves as a national spokesman for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which provides college educations for children of special operations personnel killed in combat or training. He recently was inducted into the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall of Fame for his work on behalf of veterans and their families.

Also an award-winning country artist, Thomas regularly tours with the USO to perform for troops deployed on the front lines. He and his band, Cornbread, were featured in the movie Sweet Home Alabama.

In addition to hearing Thomas speak, almost 300 delegates representing 88 county Farm Bureaus statewide will help shape the organization’s state and federal policies for the coming year. During the convention, themed “For the Love of Agriculture – 90 Years Strong,” delegates also will elect directors and learn about the future of drones in agriculture.

Keynote speaker Darryl Jenkins, chairman of the American Aviation Institute, will speak at the convention’s Dec. 1 opening luncheon. He is the founder of the George Washington University Aviation Institute, a past professor at GWU and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, a consultant for airlines and aviation companies and author of the Handbook of Airline Economics.

With 128,000 members in 88 county Farm Bureaus, VFBF is Virginia’s largest farmers’ advocacy group. Farm Bureau is a non-governmental, nonpartisan, voluntary organization committed to supporting Virginia’s agriculture industry and preserving the Virginia way of life. View more convention news as it becomes available at