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If Van Hilleary had made it through pilot training he might not be running for governor Piloting aircraft is what the 4th District congressman really wanted to do after graduating from the University of Tennessee and being commissioned a second lieutenant in the US Air Force But he didnt juggle multi-tasks as quickly as he needed to he said So when he didnt succeed as a pilot he stayed in the Air Force reserves and completed navigational training And therein may be the foundation of the front-runner in the Republican primary for the states chief executive officer He doesnt make snap decisions explained Jennifer Coxe his press secretary Some might see that as a weakness Coxe sees it as Hillearys strongest attribute He takes input from everybody and weighs it Then he makes a decision she said On the campaign trail Hilleary 43 tends to stick to issues that a new governor will face in education TennCare economic development and the budget Hes established task forces to advise him But get a few moments with him and wife Meredith over appetizers and iced tea at the Tennessee Grill or a stroll around Ayres Hall on the University of Tennessee campus - two of their favorite spots - and insight into his life becomes clearer The couple met in Washington DC where she was a congressional aide She has since obtained a masters degree in education at UT After getting a bachelors degree at UT Hilleary worked briefly in the family textile business at Spring City in Rhea County returned to UT for graduate school then decided to go to law school at Samford University in Birmingham Ala I was searching for a new direction he said He ended up volunteering for assignments in Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the 1990s He served as navigator on one rescue mission that resulted in a national award for the planes crew but Hilleary didnt mention that
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