Inside Marine One by Colonel Ray “Frenchy” L’Heureux offers insight into his personal interaction with Presidents George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. There are no political discussions but just glimpses of his personal stories, a behind the scenes with the Presidents.
The first part of the book talks about his life as a US Marine. Because he was running low on college funds and saw a recruiter at his college, he joined the Marines. His life changed forever after seeing President Ronald Reagan land on his way to a fundraiser. Choosing to pursue a career with the squadron that flies the President in Marine One, he researched what he had to accomplish to become a part of that elite group. In 1991, he joined HMX1 flying Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. In 2006, until his retirement in 2011, he was Commanding Officer flying Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
After reading the book and interviewing him it became obvious that the Colonel has a special personal bond with President George W. Bush. He told blackfive.net that he still stays in touch with the President as they write letters to each other. “It all goes back to that day where I was invited to mountain ride with the President. It was like we were two regular guys mountain biking. He goaded me into writing this book.”
He also commented that President George W. Bush was a strong supporter of the military and cared about those serving personally. “He even invited my son, Ray, who is serving, to come up to the White House for a brief discussion. President Bush was the first President that came to the Squadron to say thank you and goodbye to HMX-1. He hung around for quite some time after his remarks and took photos with the Marines. I could not have been more proud to introduce the President of The United States to my Marines in their “house.” On the flight back from Quantico to the White House, the president came into the cockpit to tell me just how much he enjoyed his time with the Marines. ‘Frenchman, that was awesome. Thank you so much.’”
Another President the Colonel feels a bond with is Bush 41. He refers to the story of how President Bush played volleyball with the pilots and admonished them to play hard against him. “It was then that Mrs. Bush came by and chided us for not wearing a jacket. She also gave us a hug for keeping her husband and family safe.”
He also addressed some of the criticism of the book noting to blackfive.net that some information is classified for security concerns so some details could not be discussed. He did emphasize that the helicopters are used within a forty-mile radius because “Helicopters offer a lot of flexibility since setting up a motorcade involves getting a whole flotilla of vehicles into place and securing a route. The security situation is easier to handle. The speed of a helicopter beats ground travel, and it allows the President to get in and out of stops quickly.”
Inside Marine One is a fun and easy read. Anyone that wants a few anecdotes about the Presidents served should definitely read this book by Colonel L’Heureux.