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NEWS | Feb. 22, 2008

Former Dallas Cowboy to headline Randolph’s National Prayer Breakfast

By David DeKunder Wingspread staff writer

Former professional football player and Air Force pilot Chad Hennings will be the keynote speaker for Randolph's observance of the National Prayer Breakfast Wednesday at 7 a.m. at the enlisted club. 

Mr. Hennings was a defensive tackle for the Dallas Cowboys for nine years and before that flew missions in Iraq during the first Gulf War. Mr. Hennings is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he played for the Falcons from 1984-87, earning football and academic honors. 

A limited number of tickets are still available for the prayer breakfast, and today is the last day people can purchase tickets for $5 at the Chapel Center, Building 103, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The price of the ticket includes a breakfast buffet. 

Chaplain (Capt.) Terry Fox, 12th Flying Training Wing Protestant chaplain, said the National Prayer Breakfast gives Randolph the opportunity to commemorate our nation's spiritual and moral heritage. 

"The prayer breakfast is a great time for our community to come together in unison, invoke God's blessing through prayer and be encouraged by the words of our keynote speaker," he said. "This is an annual event that redirects our focus to our spiritual foundation as individuals and as a nation. People of all faiths are welcome; it is an ecumenical service." 

The National Prayer Breakfast has its origins in 1942 when members of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives met weekly to share and pray for their individual spiritual needs and the dependency of America on God, according to base chapel officials. 

In 1953, Senate and House prayers groups established the Presidential Prayer Breakfast with President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In 1970, the name of the gathering was changed to the Annual National Prayer Breakfast, emphasizing the individuals who attend the event - the president, vice president, Cabinet members, congressmen, Supreme Court justices, government officials, military leaders and other officials. 

The military has held its own observance of the National Prayer Breakfast since 1972.
Chaplain Fox said Mr. Hennings will be a good speaker for this year's prayer breakfast because of his experiences as a professional athlete and Air Force pilot and his faith in God. 

"He brings a message of inspiration," Chaplain Fox said. "Airmen will have an immediate connection with Mr. Hennings because of his history as an Air Force pilot. I think his message will be applicable to people in uniform." 

A standout defensive lineman in high school, Mr. Hennings had scholarship offers from colleges around the country, but chose to attend the Air Force Academy, according to the Web site During his career at the academy, Mr. Hennings was named the school's most valuable player and defensive player of the year for the Western Athletic Conference and made the conference's all-decade team. 

As a senior in 1987, Mr. Hennings had 24 sacks for the Falcons and won the Outland Trophy, which is given to the nation's best interior lineman. During that same season, he was named the most valuable player of the 1988 Freedom Bowl. 

Besides his football awards, Mr. Hennings was a two-time Academic All-American and was inducted into the GTE Academic All-American Hall of Fame. 

After graduating from the Air Force Academy, Mr. Hennings was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, but he postponed his entry into the National Football League so he could fulfill his commitment to serve in the Air Force. 

Mr. Hennings was admitted into the Euro-NATO program, a training program for the Air Force's top pilots. After completing the program, he was piloting an A-10 Thunderbolt. 

During his four years in the Air Force, Mr. Hennings was involved in 45 missions in support of Operation Provide Comfort, which provided relief and humanitarian aid to Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq. He earned two aerial achievement medals, a humanitarian award and an outstanding unit award for his service in the operation, according to chadhennings. com. 

After being honorably discharged, Mr. Hennings joined the Cowboys and earned a spot as a starter. He played on three Super Bowl champion teams before retiring in 2001. 

Last year, Mr. Hennings was one of 20 people inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, becoming only the second Air Force Academy player to be elected to the hall. 

Besides being a professional speaker, Mr. Hennings is a successful businessman who is the president of his own marketing and consulting company and a principal in a rock-retaining-wall business.