A Seat in the People’s House

photo by Brian Jones
photo by Brian Jones

A Seat in the People’s House

On January 6, 2021, Congressman Pat Fallon was at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., just three days into his newly elected office representing the Fourth Congressional District of Texas. What began as a normal day on the Chamber floor ended historically as the Capitol was stormed by a rioting mob.

“We were sitting in the Chamber at the Capitol when somebody whispered in Nancy Pelosi’s ear, and she left,” recalled Congressman Fallon. “The Capitol police came on the microphone and said there had been a breach in the Capitol, and we were in lockdown. Nobody knew what was going on. Ten minutes later, they tell us there is a gas mask under every chair. We had to rip it out and get it ready to use. The police started getting us ready to evacuate, and I looked back and saw very few Capitol police officers. They were frantic. There were not even enough of them to get one on each door because there are so many doors in the Chamber. I felt compelled to help, and my military training kicked in. Five Republicans from Texas stayed, and we didn’t know what was on the other side of those doors. One guy had this club in his hands. It was a hand sanitizer station pole he had ripped off, and he had it like a Braveheart pike. I found a sanitizer station, and with all that adrenaline, I ripped the club right off the hand sanitizer station like a hot knife through butter. We had our ties on and I screamed to the other guys to get their ties off. If you’re in a street fight, you don’t fight with a tie on because they can drag you down and choke you. So, we all got our ties off and put them in our pockets. We were ready to defend the Chamber because it is the People’s House. You don’t just barge in uninvited. Then someone was shot right outside the Chamber, and we heard ‘shots fired!’ Then, someone from the outside busted through the Chamber glass with a flagpole right where we were standing. It shattered the glass and looked like a bullet hole. We thought they were shooting. That’s when we left, and they took us to an undisclosed location. After one of the other Congressmen found out I had only been in office three days, he assured me this wasn’t a normal day in Congress. It was harrowing for sure.”

Serving in Congress is a huge honor and privilege, and I’m soaking it in every day.” —Congressman Pat Fallon

Fallon was elected in November 2020 as the Congressman for Texas’ Fourth Congressional District. He represents 18 counties in Northeast Texas and its 700,000 residents, which includes Bowie County. “It has been an honor so far, and there is a learning curve. I’m a professional freshman because I’ve done this four times now in 11 years, learning something new.” Fallon has moved quickly up the chain in his political career over the last decade. From City Council in Frisco, Texas, to the Texas Senate and House, this entrepreneur-turned politician is a fierce competitor who is not afraid to fail and will put in the effort to achieve his goals.

His tenacious spirit was ignited during his college football career at the University of Notre Dame under the legendary Coach Lou Holtz. “He’d say that you’re going to have imperfections. You have to take joy in life and seize it. Every day is an opportunity. Sometimes you win your days and sometimes you lose your days, just like in games. You have to be willing to put in the work. I really took that to heart and after football was over, I knew I could apply that to my life,” said Fallon.

The Cold War ended while Fallon was in college, and after graduation, he joined the Air Force. “I wanted to go into the military because I felt you should pay the debt that you owe to this country. My father was in the military, and I wanted to follow in his footsteps. I was a second lieutenant in the Air Force and making $18,500 base pay.”

Congressman Fallon with Merlin, Patriot Paws trained service dog and team mate in the Congressman’s Rockwall office. photo by Brian Jones

Growing up in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Fallon learned the value of a dollar and of hard work. “But after I graduated college and was in the military, I was tired of being poor,” Fallon said. “So here I was with four twenty dollar bills to my name, and I decided I needed to try something entrepreneurial on the side. I started a little T-shirt business, and the first two times I tried, it failed. But the third time, it took off. After two years, I started making more money on the outside (of the military) than I did on the inside, so I finished my four-year military commitment and got out. In 1993, a fellow by the name of Daniel ‘Rudy’ Ruettiger called me out of the blue. They had just filmed the movie Rudy about him on the Notre Dame campus in South Bend, and he was going around the country making speeches. He called me and asked if I could make T- shirts for him. I became his business manager and saw almost every major city in the United States and Canada in those two years. I did pretty well financially for a 25-year-old kid who started with $80.”

Fallon’s grassroots side business was only the beginning of his decades-long entrepreneurial career. “In 2009, I noticed young kids were wearing shirts that had really negative messaging. So, we started making really hip, edgy-looking shirts with a positive and patriotic message. We named our company VIRTUS because it meant ‘courage’ in Latin. We sold 6,000 garments in the first weekend. It exploded. The company went from ten employees to 100, and the rest is history. Hard work and perseverance paid off.”

The Congressman took this energy and work ethic with him on the campaign trail and crushed every election he encountered. “I wanted to become the candidate that I wanted to vote for. I knocked on a thousand doors. I wrote thank-you notes, made connections, and called as many as I could for follow-ups, and I won my first election without a runoff for Frisco City Council. After that term was up, I ran for the State House and served six years. Before each election, I was warned I might lose. But we have won, largely I believe, because we go directly to the people and ask questions and listen. There will be nay-sayers and people who say, ‘Don’t try it. It won’t work out. You might lose.’ But follow your gut!”

Fallon enjoyed a successful run in the Senate for two years when a seat became open for Texas Fourth Congressional District. “President Trump had asked my dear friend John Ratcliffe to become the Director of National Intelligence. There wasn’t going to be a special election; it was a selection process where 154 people were going to be deciding, and I didn’t like that. I was worried whether the candidate who won the seat could defend it moving forward. I had proven that I could. I’ve never lost an election, and I’m somebody who has a proven, conservative voting record. I had a discussion with my wife and my sons, and after much prayer, I decided to run. On August 8, 2020, we got 82 of the 154 votes, and we became the nominee for the party. I say ‘we’ because it’s my wife holding down the home front and my team supporting me. We’re all in this together.”

Chris Chamblee and Congressman Fallon touring Red River Army Depot on June 3, 2021. photos by Matt Cornelius

Already in his brief time in office, the Congressman led 13 House colleagues in pushing for a life-saving upgrade to High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV or “Humvees”). “What many people don’t know is that we have lost 150 military personnel domestically due to rollovers with Humvees. When they’re on terrain that’s not nice and flat like I-30 highways, it can be dangerous. There is technology where they can retrofit all the existing 54,000 Humvees in our military. But there are manufacturers and other lobbyists in other districts who want to purchase 40,000 new Humvees instead that will already have this anti-rollover technology installed. But we can save the American taxpayer $12.9 billion by upgrading our current Humvees. A lot of that retrofitting will be done here at Red River Army Depot. When I took office, I promised I would try with every fiber of my being to get on the Armed Services Committee because of Red River Army Depot and what it means to this area.” In addition to the Armed Services Committee, Fallon currently serves on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Military Personnel Subcommittee, and the Cyber Subcommittee. “Serving in Congress is a huge honor and privilege, and I’m soaking it in every day,” said Congressman Fallon. “It’s real work. If you do it the right way, you’re going to work your tail off.”

Fallon has instilled that same hard work and perseverance that he learned from Coach Holtz in his sons Thomas (14) and Mac (11). “I want my boys to have confidence in their abilities so they can live their lives to the fullest potential. I tell them what I tell any younger audience I speak to: ‘You’re going to fail in life. Not everything you want to have happened in your life will. But some of it will, provided you try. And don’t be discouraged by the first roadblock or obstacle. You have to learn to overcome. In the end, hard work, persistence and perseverance will pay off.”

Joe Johnson, James Bass, Michael Lockard, RRAD Deputy Commander Patton Tidwell, Congressman Pat Fallon photo by Matt Cornelius


 

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