Jim Foreman may have been born in the small town of Vicksburg, Mississippi, but his military and business careers have taken him around the world, with stops in Germany, Korea and Vietnam.
"I would have chosen somewhere else, but that's where they sent me," the 76-year-old said of Vietnam. "About seven months into it, I got shot up and they sent me back."
Flying lower than normal due to overcast conditions, Foreman's helicopter began to take enemy fire. A bullet found its way through the metal, coming right between his legs, before hitting him in the right arm.
The shot ended Foreman's aviation career.
"My first reaction when I was hit — I felt my arm go back and that's all I felt — was to ask my crew chief for a tourniquet to wrap on my arm," he recalled. "They took me to the evacuation hospital and the first thing I told them was 'you need to write my wife to tell her I'm OK.' "
Sent to Fort Bragg to recover, Foreman said he was oddly popular on base.
"They hadn't had that many people that were evacuated," he said. "So I was kind of like a celebrity because they finally had someone to prove you were being shot at."
Foreman received a Purple Heart for his military service, which totaled 21 years. He retired in 1980.
Four years later, Foreman purchased his home in Destin, and he vividly remembers the dynamics of a newly born city. At the time, he said the homeowners association at Kell-Aire Gardens, where he lived, was very active and fighting against the development of neighborhood parks in the community.
Former Councilman Lloyd Taylor convinced Foreman to try his hand at local politics. He wasn't elected on his first try.
"I was a newbie," said Foreman, who is the only incumbent on the March 11 ballot.
Foreman was introduced to the city's volunteer committee system, which is where he found his early footing as part of the city's planning commission, reviewing projects before they were presented to the city council.
He also served on the charter review committee, a group that was ultimately successful in having the city's current charter revised.
"The city council opposed it, just like most of the original council had opposed incorporation," Foreman said. "Being the good citizens that we were, Bill Bradley, who was our chairman, said we'll do a referendum. So we went around and got petitions signed, put it on the ballot and won."
Although he never thought he would enter the political arena, Foreman said his time in the military prepared him. Attention to detail and being able to compromise on issues are two keys to being effective, he said.
"You have to understand that there are different sides to every issue," he said. "Sometimes you have to compromise on something that you may not agree with for the greater good."
When residents approach Foreman, he said they are mainly concerned with issues such as development and the tiering system, which governs height and density limits.
"We're trying to improve on it," he said. "Some of the power-brokers in town want to eliminate it, but I'm not convinced that's the right course of action — I'm still listening."
In his spare time, alongside his wife, Marguerite, Foreman can be found travelling the globe on a cruise ship or hitting the road in the couple's motor home.
For the past 30 years, Foreman has also been tracing his family’s genealogy, which he says is pretty extensive. He has been able to trace his bloodline back to the 1600s, and his mother's side of the family back to the 1400s.
"It's so cool," he said. "I ran across a relative of Queen Elizabeth I."
Given his extensive military career, Foreman told The Log he enjoys the quiet lifestyle he leads in Destin, but still yearns to make a difference.
"I don't create a lot of excitement," he said with a big chuckle. "I've had enough excitement in my days, so I don't seek it out."
VOTE SMART: Meet the candidates
If you want to meet the candidates first hand, The Destin Area Chamber of Commerce and The Destin Log will host a candidate forum on Feb. 11 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Destin United Methodist Church. Submit questions early to moderator William Hatfield at firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR’S NOTE: As part of The Log's election coverage leading up to the March 11 city council elections, we will be profiling each candidate. Stories will appear each Wednesday and Saturday. Candidates will be profiled in alphabetical order. Read past profiles at thedestinlog.com