The Crowd: 'Salute' offers night of substance

The World Affairs Council of Orange County gathered last month for a year-end celebration billed as "A Salute to the U.S. Armed Forces."

It was an evening of considerable substance, headlined by guest speaker and guest of honor Mark Kimmitt, a retired Army brigadier general who was the former chief military spokesman for coalition forces in Iraq.

Kimmitt, who was also assistant secretary of state for political and military affairs under President George W. Bush, addressed the audience at the Disneyland Hotel, Anaheim, about the American military's role in bringing about peace in the Middle East.

Serving in the Army for more than 30 years, Kimmitt retired as a brigadier general in 2006. Among his military assignments, he served as deputy director of strategy and plans for the U.S. Central Command as well as deputy director of operations in Iraq.

Joining Kimmitt for this Orange County evening focused on Washington policy were local Congressional representatives, including Loretta Sanchez, Ed Royce and Dana Rohrabacher, sharing political views from "both sides of the aisle."

The evening began with a cocktail reception followed by dinner and the program, which also honored Orange County Republican political activist Tom Fuentes in absentia. Fuentes, who is gravely ill, was honored with the annual Golden Orange Award from the council. Newport Beach's respected business leader, Jo Ellen Chatham, accepted the honor on his behalf.

Also on hand for the event, Newport's distinguished philanthropist and statesman, Sir Eldon Griffiths, joining Corona del Mar residents Annie and Clement Chu. Jerry Harrington, Serge Tomassian, Nora Valenzuela, and Liz and Rod Maxson all front and center for the annual World Affairs Council gathering. Funds raised from the $95 per person ticket price will benefit "Wounded Warriors," which assists injured service men and women.

THE CROWD runs Thursdays and Saturdays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

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