Ever thought about abandoning creature comforts, such as your pillow-top mattress and cushioned office chair, to risk life and limb on a helicopter full of medical supplies bound for orphan children in a war-torn country?
Not many Americans have.
If there ever was a real American adventurer, F. Andy Messing Jr. fits the description. He is a retired major in the U.S. Army Special Forces Reserve, a veteran of Vietnam, Grenada as well as El Salvador and executive director of the National Defense Council Foundation, or NDCF.
Then there is the foundation’s President, Milton Copulos, who is an expert on issues of energy security. For the past 30 years, Copulos has successfully and accurately predicted America’s energy posture. His mantra is “Energy causes wars. NDCF is here to find more energy so we don’t get pulled into a war,” Copulos told WND.
NDCF advances its mission of promoting stronger and more efficient national security through media appearances, selective lobbying, a robust intern study program, research and publications, medical and fact-finding missions. The organization has taken 144 tons of medical supplies, including incubators, surgical equipment, oxygen machine, blood-work instruments and medications to 13 war-torn countries all over the world.
“We’ve been studying small wars and drug wars for a long time,” said Messing. “Accordingly, we do two to three medical missions per year in conjunction with those studies.”
A seasoned soldier and humanitarian, Messing told WND, “I’ve been to 27 conflict areas, three of them in uniform – Vietnam, Grenada and El Salvador. They all are unique.”
NDCF has taken numerous trips into El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Namibia, Nicaragua, Colombia, Somalia, South Africa, Iraq and the Caribbean. The foundation also delivered medical supplies to 300 children in Mother Teresa’s “Sisters of Charity” orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where many of the children had contracted AIDS.
“Haiti’s pain is so sad … we must get everyone to help,” Messing said after his 2006 medical mission.
In a January 1986 article for the Los Angeles Times, Messing wrote, “Tens of thousands of anti-nuclear war demonstrators spend millions of dollars on costumes, buttons and signs while children in the Third World go without teachers and books. America responds to the plight of one select country with concerts and T-shirts that buy tons of food, some of which rots on docks, while most of those same people return to worrying about football scores, fashions or new recreational drugs.”
Delivering medical supplies to needy children in such war-torn countries is not without its moments of grave peril. On several occasions, Messing has faced life-threatening circumstances while on NDCF missions.
In El Salvador, Messing and Rep. Philip Crane, R.-Ill., became flying targets as their helicopter was shot at and subsequently hit. During a February 1983 mission in Guatemala, Messing and Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R.-Wisc., were in a helicopter crash. On a February 1990 trip to Peru, NDCF faced danger as the helicopter carrying Messing and Rep. Dan Burton, R.-Ind., “force landed” in the midst of a drug processing village.
Through his work in the NDCF, Messing has witnessed first-hand the atrocities of narcotics wars during the medical missions. In 1989, NDCF took a trip to Peru’s “Cocaine Valley” and sent a team to assess the drug situation in the Bahamas and Venezuela. He met with then-President George H.W. Bush to discuss the national counter-drug strategy, pushed for anti-drug legislation and encouraged the president to declare a war on drugs with a unilateral action to protect America.
NDCF extensively toured Laos’ “Golden Crescent,” an expansive drug production site, the Caribbean, Guatemala and Colombia to continue studying the drug war. In 1998, Messing received an anti-narcotics award from the Columbian National Police for helping to combat narco-guerrillas there.
After extensive research, Messing and NDCF make a concerted effort to publish their findings and influence legislation. Messing was the first to brief then-Gov. George W. Bush on defense and foreign affairs in July of 1998.
“We take our academic product, put it in the hands of congressmen and write about it. We try to change public opinion,” he said.
Messing and the NDCF played an integral role in the passage of the Denton Amendment, allowing the shipment of food and medicine on a space-available basis on U.S. military vessels. In concert with Sensenbrenner, Messing convinced Sen. Jeremiah Denton. R.-Ala., to sponsor the legislation in 1984.
Messing told WND, “He and I wrote the amendment for the DOD Appropriation Act on a napkin in the hallway going up to the capitol.”
In February of 2002 Messing briefed Karl Rove on the war in Iraq.
“I said don’t go into Iraq with conventional forces. It will cost us too much. Use special operations forces instead,” Messing told WND.
Despite the intensity of his operations, Messing has a light-hearted way of conveying the overall division between fighting groups in Iraq.
“In a place where everyone is trying to kill everyone, there are a lot of cranky people running around Iraq,” he said.
Messing went to Iraq twice on private funding, once in 1991 and again in 2004. He tried to blend into his surroundings during the trip, telling WND, “I dressed up like an Arab and read a newspaper in the back of a taxi driving through Baghdad.”
In December 2005, Messing visited Iraq on a Department of Defense-sponsored trip with soldier escorts. He toured Baghdad and Fallujah to investigate what he refers to as the “real situation” from soldiers on the ground.
The morale of soldiers could be higher, he said.
“It’s not so much what the soldiers say, it’s all the e-mails I get from former (NDCF) interns over there,” he said. “They realize that it is a good mission fundamentally, but they don’t get enough chances to refurbish schools, do medical missions, pave roads, and ensure pipelines are secured.”
He added, “They are having a slow time vetting and training up Iraqi soldiers, which is frustrating.”
Messing and NDCF continue to bring valuable research and insight to legislators through the foundation’s medical and fact-finding missions.
“The whole concept behind the foundation is to get America to exercise force carefully and fight more efficiently without tripping the nuclear tripwire,” he said.
“It’s been a very exciting experience,” he reflected. “I’ve had quite an interesting life.”
Interesting indeed. George W. Bush has called Messing “a warrior for freedom,” and Ronald Reagan said, “The efforts of NDCF have been invaluable in offering hope and promise where there was only despair. The inspirational programs undertaken by the NDCF … will help the cause of freedom. Your work is in the highest tradition of this great nation.”
Chelsea Schilling is a WND intern based in Texas.