Maj. Gen. Tommy Baker of Nashville, formerly of Huntingdon, was the first person to greet President Donald Trump when he arrived in Nashville on Thursday for the last of the presidential candidate debates before the Nov. 3 election. The president, who was preparing for the debate with candidate Joe Biden at Belmont University, was accompanied by his wife, Melania Trump.
Maj. Gen. Baker admits it was pretty exciting being the first one on the ground to greet the president.
“I saluted him,” said Maj. Gen. Baker. “I told him, ‘Mr. President, welcome back to the Volunteer State.’”
He replied to me, “It’s good to be back. It’s a great state.”
The state’s senior military member is always the official presidential greeter. Maj. Gen. Baker, as the deputy adjutant Major General, was called on for the duty since Major General Jeff Holmes was out of town.
In the accompaniment of Maj. Gen. Baker were Col. Todd Wiles and Command Chief Ken Simmons After the greeting, the motorcade left the airport, and Baker saw the president no more during his visit.
He said it was very impressive watching Air Force One as it landed at Barry Field Air National Guard Base.
“Anytime you get to meet a sitting president, it’s an honor,” he said.
However, this is not the first time that Maj. Gen. Baker has seen a sitting president. In 2004 when his plane stopped for refueling in Maine during his first deployment in Iraqi Freedom, he met President George Bush.
Baker was promoted to Brigadier General in 2018.
He and his wife, Camille, reside about a mile from the state capitol, but still maintain a home in Huntingdon.