My father was a blue collar worker. He was about to buy his first car: a Cadillac. Instead, he gave me the money to go to the school.
On March 15, Michael DeSantis sat down with U.S. Senate Candidate of Missouri Lieutenant Colonel Tony Monetti (Retired) to talk about his career and his campaign. Lt. Col. Monetti is a former Air Force pilot, who originally hails from Brooklyn, NY. Since serving with the military, Lt. Col. Monetti co-authored two books, worked with students at the University of Central Missouri’s school of aviation, and became a small business owner. Monetti is ready to face the Missouri Senate race head on as a very unconventional politician, and he officially filed for the Senate seat last month.
Michael DeSantis: Colonel Monetti, good afternoon. I have spoken with some friends in Missouri, and they tell me you have a pretty inspiring background. Can you tell our readers about that?
Colonel Tony Monetti: I would be honored. My mother and father are legal Italian immigrants going back to the late 1950’s and 1960’s. They both came to America in search of the American dream. It was wonderful growing up in a family of immigrants because my first language was Italian. I learned English when I went to public school in Brooklyn, New York.
Ever since I was a little kid, I was always determined to do what I wanted to do and that was fly jets for the United States Air force. That was my dream. I was able to go to a high school that would set me up for such a dream. I had to travel an hour and a half one way and an hour and a half back. It was called Aviation High School. Instead of a football field we had a hanger full of airplanes.
I was learning about aviation when I found out about the Air Force Academy, which would be able to guarantee me a slot to fly jets for the Air Force if I got accepted. I thought if I applied myself with leadership, athletics and an academic blend I would be accepted. I was the president of the student body, president of the National Technical Honors society, lettered in track, had a job, civil air patrol, and boy scouts. I was involved with many things that focused on leadership.
Unfortunately I only applied to one school and a month before graduation. I received a letter from the Air Force Academy saying I was not accepted. Unfortunately my test scores weren’t high enough. So now I worked so hard and didn’t achieve that dream. At that moment, life started for me.
Just three days later on the subway, I saw an elderly women standing up, so I offered her my seat. She said thank you in Italian, and we got to talking. I found out that her son went to Aviation High School. So she invited me over to meet him. He had similar challenges with getting into the Air Force Academy.
He had been training at a prep school in Santa Barbara where all they would do is track your ACT and SAT work. The program was expensive, and my father was a blue collar worker. He was about to buy his first car: a Cadillac. Instead, he gave me the money to go to the school. I was on a plane to Santa Barbara, California a month later. I worked hard. Six months later, I took the tests again and applied to colleges. I was accepted into the Air Force Academy.
Thus began my adventure of living the American dream. Persistence. Resistance is what I teach. I’m a motivational speaker and an author. Every time I go out and talk to young people, I always say, “America is a place where you have unlimited opportunities, it’s all around us like air. It’s just that some of us see it.” It just takes hard work and determination and a little bit of luck. In a nutshell, that’s how I became a pilot in the United States Air Force.
Michael: You mentioned being an author. What is your book about?
Colonel Monetti: Yes, my wife and I co-authored Called to Serve. The book is about how to enjoy time with your family and how to deal with the most contentious issues families face. For example, my oldest son went to school in three different countries. You can imagine how difficult that is. I also talk about what it’s like to be in active combat in Desert Storm, and having the courage to stand up and fight.
None of us in the military want to fight. We want to defend our nation. No one in the military likes war, but if you are called upon to go into battle and get shot at, there’s no experience that can compare to what I had to deal with. My entire perspective on life has forever been changed by my service for my country. Missiles coming close, close friends dying, all sorts of things. The book will give readers great insight into what it’s like to go into active combat.
Michael: Do you think that perspective you gained in combat has helped you at all in your race?
Colonel Monetti: Yes of course. For one thing, I am mentally tough. The military has trained us to deal with pressure and how to make wise decisions not based on emotion, but on integrity and duty. When you are taught to go into battle you have courage to go in again and again. I can’t fall down. I have to run at the issue.
What I think defines my campaign is integrity, excellence, service before self, relationships and joy. That’s my perspective of almost dying in combat and sharing these ideas with people and showing them to have joy in life. That is why I am running for the United States Senate. I really see chaos in my country, and it saddens me so much to see that our politicians have lost sight what is important to our nation.
Michael: I understand you’re running on a similar platform to President Trump. Other candidates have tried to replicate his winning campaign and his style with little success. Do you see a different outcome for your race?
Colonel Monetti: As a person of faith I do believe that the Lord put this on my heart, and I will be the next U.S. Senator of Missouri. I know that sounds strange to a lot of people when they hear that, but I have always been a man of faith.
I have been in every aspect of American life: running a restaurant, being a veteran, helping NATO with diplomacy, a [college] dean and a contributing member of the community. I’ve been part of the Academy, the business world, and, most importantly, my community. At the end of the day, you need to let Tony be Tony and let Trump be Trump.
Michael: Colonel Monetti, I’ve had a great time talking with you today, and I always like to end my interviews with a fun question. Since we are both Italian Americans, I would like to know who your favorite Italian is throughout history. Whether that’s a politician, an actor, or even a philosopher.
Colonel Monetti: It has to be Leonardo da Vinci, the Renaissance man. His artwork, his passion, his love of life, and the way he was able to change the world. He is a man whom I greatly respect and would like to emulate in some way.
Michael: Colonel Monetti, it’s been a pleasure.
Colonel Monetti: Absolutely, thank you for having me.