State senator to miss session for military training

As a delegate for eight years, J.B. Jennings didn't miss a single vote. As a new senator, he'll miss almost all of his first legislative session.

Jennings, a member of the Maryland Air National Guard, announced Thursday that he has been activated for a federal training mission that begins next week in Georgia. The mission concludes April 30, after the 90-day session has drawn to a close.

A Republican who represents parts of Baltimore and Harford counties, Jennings said that he'll return to Maryland at his own expense for some voting sessions, but he acknowledged he'll miss some votes.

"I wish I could be in two places at once," he said in a statement. "Being in Annapolis is very important to me. However, being fully trained and ready to serve as a member of our armed forces is also very important."

Jennings, 36, said he learned about his activation in November and told Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller last month. He shared the news on the Senate floor Thursday morning — an announcement that coincided with the General Assembly's fallen heroes ceremony.

During the morning session, Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters, a Prince George's County Democrat, announced the names of nine senators, himself included, who had served in the military, plus Jennings, who is serving now. Peters also read the names of Marylanders who died in action in the past year.

Jennings' colleagues gave him a standing ovation when he explained his mission. He'll be training in a C-27, a new military cargo plane, as a loadmaster. He's a licensed pilot, but in the military, he is part of the crew. His duties include monitoring flight systems and fuel management, as well as overseeing the plane's passengers and cargo.

After training in Georgia, he'll return to his home base, Warfield Air National Guard Base at Martin State Airport, and continue gaining experience on the C-27. He said he expects his unit to be deployed overseas in the near future.