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These pages are provided as a service to those military veterans who have accepted a new call to service as political leaders, as well as to those voters who recognize the importance of electing veterans to serve in new capacities. Our intent is to be informational, all-inclusive, and non-partisan. Nothing should be considered an endorsement of any candidate.

Personal Biography Page For

Bentley Rayburn (R)
Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives
Colorado 5th Congressional District


Retired Major General Bentley Brooks Rayburn continues to serve his country by running for the Congressional 5th District in Colorado. A social and fiscal conservative, he stands for winning the war against radical Islam, improving the education of our children, and balancing the federal budget by controlling spending and cutting taxes. He is a proven leader, a man of character and integrity, and a visionary to guide Colorado in the years ahead.



The Early Years

Bentley Rayburn was born in Pasadena, California, in 1953. He is the son of Dr. Robert G. and LaVerne S. Rayburn. Dr. Rayburn was the founding president of Covenant College and Theological Seminary. Bentley's uncle, Jim Rayburn, was the founder of the international youth ministry, Young Life, headquartered in Colorado Springs. As a young boy, Bentley grew up on the campus of Covenant College and Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, but spent every summer in the Rayburn mountain home at Clyde, Colorado, on the Gold Camp Road between Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek. So began Bentley's love for the Colorado mountains and the area of the 5th Congressional District. In fact, his first paying job was working for a cattle rancher who owned ranch land near his mountain home and also on the plains east of Colorado Springs.

The Rayburn family attended Evangelical Presbyterian Church and, later, Village Seven Presbyterian Church, where the Rayburns are members today. Bentley met his future wife, Debbi Dewhirst, when they where both young children attending this church. Debbi is the daughter of Dr. Milton and LaBerta Dewhirst. Dr. Dewhirst is a family physician and has practiced medicine in Colorado Springs since January of 1963.

Bentley excelled at academics and sports in high school and was accepted to the United States Air Force Academy. He entered the Academy in July of 1971, and continued to excel. He earned a varsity letter as a member of the intercollegiate soccer team, and carried a double major in mathematics and basic sciences. Bentley served in various cadet leadership positions throughout his first three years, and was selected by the Commandant of Cadets to be the Cadet Wing Commander for his entire senior year.

The Air Force Years

Upon graduation from the US Air Force Academy, Bentley began pilot training at Williams Air Force Base near Phoenix, Arizona. He won a coveted assignment flying jet fighters and was reassigned to George Air Force Base in southern California to train in the F-4 Phantom II. Following Bentley's graduation from F-4 training and Debbi's graduation from Wheaton College, they married in June of 1977 and quickly moved to the Rayburn's first operational assignment at Torrejon Air Base, outside of Madrid, Spain. During his three years in Spain, Bentley upgraded to flight leader and instructor pilot-important steps in the development of a fighter pilot. He was able to fly and conduct operations all through the NATO area with considerable time spent at Aviano Air Base in northern Italy and Incirlik Air Base in south central Turkey. Bentley and Debbi's first child, a daughter, Moriah, was born in Spain.

In 1980, Bentley was assigned to the Secretary of the Air Force's personal staff, and he completed a master's degree in political science at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. with an emphasis in National Security Studies. In December 1981, the Rayburns were reassigned to Hill Air Force Base, just north of Salt Lake City, Utah. At Hill Bentley became qualified as an F-16 instructor, and after one year entered the highly select U.S. Air Force Fighter Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base, north of Las Vegas, Nevada, which is known today as the U.S. Air Force Weapons School. Bentley and Debbi's second child, a son, Micah, was born at Nellis Air Force Base.

After graduation, Bentley returned to Hill Air Force Base to become the Weapons and Tactics officer and instructor pilot in the 4th Tactical Fighter Squadron. While there, Bentley earned promotion to major three years early and served as the 388th Fighter Wing Weapons and Tactics officer before entering the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. While at Ft. Leavenworth, Bentley was promoted two years early to Lieutenant Colonel.

After a year of study with the U.S. Army at Fort Leavenworth, Bentley was reassigned in June of 1986 to Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, where he served as the Chief of Doctrine for the combined U.S./Republic of Korea Air Component Command. From Korea the Rayburns were reassigned to Holloman Air Force Base, near the White Sands National Monument in South Central New Mexico, to assume command of the 434th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron. His squadron was responsible for teaching newly minted Air Force pilots the fundamentals of fighter aircraft employment. Near the end of his command he was selected by Air Force senior leaders to participate in regional planning efforts in Panama just prior to OPERATION JUST CAUSE. In 1989 Debbi and Bentley's identical twin daughters, Cassandra and Carrissa, were born in Colorado Springs. Bentley was selected by the U.S. Jaycees as one of the Ten Outstanding Americans for 1990, honoring his accomplishments for military and community service. In his class was Congressman Steve Largent (R-OK), Congressman Vin Weber (R-MN) and Missouri Attorney General Bill Webster, among others. He was promoted to Colonel two years early.

In June of 1991, the Rayburns moved to Langley Air Force Base near Hampton, Virginia, where Bentley served as the Executive Officer to the Commander of Tactical Air Command, a four star general. Here he participated in the reorganization of the Air Force major commands following the first Gulf War. This reorganization saw the dissolution of Tactical Air Command and Strategic Air Command and the creation of Air Combat Command as the largest combat command in the Air Force. After one year, Bentley became Commandant of the Fighter Weapons School, and the Rayburns moved back to Nellis Air Force Base. While serving as the Commandant, he was sent to Saudi Arabia to command the 4404th Operations Group conducting No Fly Zone operations over southern Iraq in support of the UN sanctions against Sadaam Hussein. In this capacity he led combat patrol flights in the F-16 over southern Iraq.

From Nellis, the Rayburns were transferred back to Hill Air Force Base, Utah where Bentley took command of the 388th Fighter Wing in April of 1995. The wing consisted of three fighter squadrons, a tactical air control squadron and the accompanying combat support squadrons. At the conclusion of his command tour, Bentley was promoted to Brigadier General and assigned as the commander of the 4404th Wing. The 4404th was the largest combat wing in the Air Force at the time, and was located in Saudi Arabian desert southeast of the capital of Riyadh. At the height, the wing had over a hundred combat aircraft, was located in four separate countries and supported French and British combat units as well. After over a year in Saudi Arabia, Bentley was reunited with his family and they returned to Langley Air Force Base in Virginia where he became the Inspector General of Air Combat Command in July of 1998. In this capacity he was responsible for ensuring the combat readiness of the largest Air Force major command. While serving as the IG, senior Air Force leadership selected General Rayburn to deploy to Italy and serve as a senior Joint Task Force director for OPERATION NOBLE ANVIL, the U.S. military operation in support of the war in Serbia and Kosovo in the spring of 1999. Following his selection to Major General, he was reassigned as the Director of Plans and Programs for Air Combat Command and he became responsible for the budgetary and force planning of Air Combat Command's $17.2 billion budget.

In August of 2001, Bentley was transferred to Maxwell Air Force Base to become the Commandant, or President, of the Air War College, the Air Force's most senior degree granting school. Beyond directing the affairs of the college, Rayburn worked with and developed relationships with the 45 foreign senior officers each year who were part of the War College class. Many of these were from Middle Eastern or other Muslim countries and now have significant positions in their national militaries. Bentley was next assigned as the Commander of the Headquarters Air Force Doctrine Center at Maxwell where he worked directly for the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force. 

Continuing Service

Throughout his career, Bentley Rayburn has been involved with a number of important organizations outside the military. He is an elder in Presbyterian Church in America, and served as a ruling elder in a number of congregations around the country. Bentley was also appointed to the Presbyterian and Joint Commission on Chaplains and Military Personnel, the body that endorses military and civilian chaplains for a number of participating evangelical denominations. Bentley served on the board of directors of the Officers' Christian Fellowship and God's World Publications, the publishing house of WORLD Magazine and God's World News for kids.

Since moving home to Colorado, General Rayburn has been very involved in the local community, providing leadership to a number of significant efforts. He was asked to serve as Chairman for the Pikes Peak Region National Veterans' Cemetery Committee, a group of local community leaders working to get a national veterans cemetery authorized and constructed in the southern Colorado and Pikes Peak region. Their work has been instrumental in moving the effort farther than it has ever been in over 15 years. He assisted the City of Cripple Creek in planning and executing a very successful weekend salute to America's Armed Forces in August '07. Debbi and Bentley were both elected Bonus Members for the El Paso County Republican Party and have been active in Party activities. Bentley organized and was one of the speakers at a first ever El Paso County GOP Youth Conference. General Rayburn was selected to serve on the Advisory Board of the Leadership Program of the Rockies, a key state-wide leadership program in Colorado designed to build future community, state and national leaders. He is also the founding CEO of a new Near Space Foundation designed to bring businesses, government institutions, research organizations and institutions of higher learning together to advance the capabilities, and develop the potential of Near Space. This effort is designed in part to build an industry that will create jobs, especially in high-tech areas, for the entire 5th Congressional District community and the nation. Bentley serves on the Board of Directors for a local charity, The Home Front Cares, dedicated to providing needed support for families who have a parent deployed to the war zone. Additionally, Bentley was asked to serve as the spokesman for a major benefit concert for the USO sponsored by Waddell and Reed and a number of other local businesses and organizations. These are just some of the ways Bentley and Debbi Rayburn have committed their talents and energy to the people of the 5th Congressional District, including the fine military personnel that live among us.

In the last few years it became clear to Bentley Rayburn that the issues he cares most about are broader than the scope of the U.S. military. Deciding to leave active military service, he now has the opportunity to influence the direction of the country well beyond that of strictly military issues by providing leadership at the local, state and national level, and along with other fellow citizens, tackling the great issues and concerns of our day.

Through their years of service the Rayburns returned home to Colorado at every opportunity. Their home on the Gold Camp Road near Clyde was the one constant in the ever changing military dependent life of their children. Since 1963, when Bentley was 10 years old, he has lived in Colorado and the 5th Congressional District longer than any other place they have lived. And after 18 moves in 31 years, the Rayburns are home to stay. Retired from the military, but not retired from life and service, the Rayburns have returned to their Colorado home so that they can continue to serve the great people of the 5th Congressional District.




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