Otter’s mom understands why he missed her 98th birthday — to welcome troops

Gov. Butch Otter was at Fort Hood, Texas, on Saturday to  welcome home Idaho National Guard troops after a 9-month deployment in Afghanistan.

To greet about 60 troops from the Idaho National Guard’s Company A, 1-168 General Support Aviation Battalion, Otter had to skip a 98th-birthday brunch for his mother, Regina. Mrs. Otter was born Feb. 9, 1915.

A scheduling change prompted the conflict, Otter told me Friday. “The Pentagon changed the date of the arrival,” he said. “So, I’m going to miss her 98th birthday. But Mom said, ‘You’re doing the right thing.’”

Otter said he did get his mum, who recently moved into assisted living housing, a “very personal” gift.

Otter served in the Idaho National Guard’s 116th Armored Calvary from 1968-73 and wears a U.S. Army lapel pin rather than the American flag favored by many politicians.

“My feeling is without the guys this represents, there would be no flag,” Otter said. “This is the flag. “

Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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