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April 27, 2014

Arooji to speak during Law Day luncheon

DUNCAN — Attorney Jim Kee looked past politicians to find someone interesting with a story of his own to be this year’s guest speaker at Stephens County Law Day.

Kee invited Fred Arooji, a special operations pilot, to the annual luncheon to talk to people involved in various aspects of law. Arooji is described as “the man left behind,” noted for his two-week survival following an aborted rescue mission. The Law Day luncheon will be at 11:30 a.m. Friday at the Duncan Golf and Tennis Club.

“We want to make a special invitation to Special Operations, night stalkers, rangers, airborne veterans,” Kee said.

Arooji was the 2013 recipient of the Bull Simons Award. During the beginning of the Law Day luncheon, the video of Arooji receiving his award will be shown, Kee said.

In addition to surviving two weeks in 1980’s Iran, Arooji helped pioneer night vision goggles technology and flew hundreds of Special Operations missions over the course of 30 years.

“He is known for never aborting a mission,” Kee said.

Arooji doesn’t look like a Special Ops, though, standing about 5 feet 6 inches and weighing about 160 pounds. Kee said Arooji served a distinguished career, beginning in the United States Air Force in 1971. Arooji was born in Iran, immigrating to America when he was a child.

Although he started as an avionics mechanic for RF4 Phantom jets, he went through an interview process and was selected for Eagle Claw.

“All the work he did was classified,” Kee said. “He won’t be able to talk about it specifically.”

Aside from Arooji as guest speaker, the Law Day luncheon will also include the annual Liberty Bell Award, which is awarded to a Stephens County resident each year as chosen by the Stephens County Bar Association. Last year, the award was given to Betty Apple, whose husband, Ed Apple, was a previous award recipient.

The first Liberty Bell Award was given in 1965, recognizing Harrington Wimberly, former owner and publisher of The Duncan Banner. This is the 49th year for the award to be presented.

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