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Steve Russell (politician)

Steven Dane Russell (born May 25, 1963) is a retired American soldier and politician. As a soldier, he played a significant role in the capture of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Later, as a Republican, he represented Oklahoma's 5th congressional district (Oklahoma City) in the United States House of Representatives from 2015 to 2019 and was a former member of the Oklahoma Senate from 2009-2013.[1]

Steve Russell
Steve Russell official photo.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oklahoma's 5th district
In office
January 3, 2015 – January 3, 2019
Preceded byJames Lankford
Succeeded byKendra Horn
Member of the Oklahoma Senate
from the 45th district
In office
January 3, 2009 – January 8, 2013
Preceded byKathleen Wilcoxson
Succeeded byKyle Loveless
Personal details
Steven Dane Russell

(1963-05-25) May 25, 1963 (age 56)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Cindy Myers (m. 1985)
EducationOuachita Baptist University (BA)
United States Army Command and General Staff College (MMAS)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1985–2006
RankLieutenant Colonel
Unit1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment
4th Infantry Division
1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment
1st Infantry Division
Battles/warsKosovo War
Afghanistan War
Iraq War
 • Operation Red Dawn
AwardsLegion of Merit
Bronze Star (with valor)
Combat Infantryman Badge
Ranger tab

Early lifeEdit

Russell was born on May 25, 1963 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to Clyde E. "Gene" Russell and Donna J. Porter Russell. Russell grew up in Del City, Oklahoma. The youngest of three, Russell nearly died at birth due to an opposite blood type with his mother. After weeks of intensive care, he recovered and would face several other brushes with death. At the age of seven, Russell was nearly killed by the deadly tornado that hit near Lake Eufala, Oklahoma on June 11, 1970 while visiting his grandparents. Later that year, Russell nearly died from a ruptured appendix and underwent two surgeries with weeks of intensive care at Midwest City Hospital.

Russell attended school at Del City Elementary and Kerr Junior High. He became a Christian reading a Gideon's New Testament he picked up at Kerr in 1977. In 1980, Russell was an exchange student to Germany, living in Kasseedorf near Eutin in Schleswig-Holstein. Graduating from Del City High School in 1981, Russell was President of his senior class and voted most likely to succeed.[2] After earning a four-year Army ROTC scholarship, Russell attended Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. After graduating with a degree in Public Speaking, Russell was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army infantry.

Military careerEdit

Receiving his Infantry training at Fort Benning, Georgia, Russell married Cindy Myers, whom he met at Ouachita, on December 21, 1985. Russell would graduate from the U.S. Army Infantry Officers' Basic Course, Airborne School, Mortar School and a year later from the U.S. Army Ranger School in Class 11–87.[3]

Russell served 21 years in airborne, light and mechanized assignments in the Arctic, the desert, the Pacific, in Europe and in the Continental United States. He served more than seven years overseas and deployed operationally to Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Russell commanded the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry 'Regulars' and conducted combat in Tikrit, Iraq from the spring of 2003 to the spring of 2004. His task force was a part of Colonel James Hickey's 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division. Russell's battalion was broadly covered during the first year of the war by CNN, Fox News Channel, ABC, NBC, CBS, TIME, Associated Press and Reuters. His unit was a central player in the hunt and capture of Saddam Hussein and has been featured in the Discovery Channel's Ace in the Hole[4] and BBC Panorama's 'Saddam on the Run' documentaries. Russell has also been featured in a documentary highlighting his military life and political transition in the American Patriots Unsung series called 'Sacred Honor.'[5]

Russell with Peter Jennings in Tikrit, Iraq in March 2004

Russell is highly decorated,[6] having received the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device[7] and Oak Leaf Cluster, the Combat Infantryman's Badge and his unit in Iraq was awarded the Valorous Unit Award for its role in the hunt and capture of Saddam Hussein.[8]

Russell continued in command of the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry until June, 2005, when he was selected to become the Chief of Tactics at the US Army Infantry School at Ft. Benning, GA. Turning down a Queen's University Fellowship to Kingston, Canada for the U.S. Army War College and promotion to colonel, Russell retired as a lieutenant colonel in 2006. He returned to Oklahoma with his wife and five children.[citation needed]

Congressman Steve Russell appearing with uniforms on loan to the Oklahoma History Center. The American uniform is one he wore during the hunt for Saddam Hussein and the green uniform was one worn by Saddam Hussein himself while President of Iraq. The uniforms are part of a special collection on display of Saddam related artifacts.

Post-military careerEdit

Russell began an active veterans advocacy career upon retirement and worked closely with other veterans to bolster the soldiers voice in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He formed Vets for Victory with several decorated warriors holding rallies in several states to embolden the public to support the troops.[9] Russell also toured the country with many distinguished and highly decorated veterans such as David Bellavia, author of House to House; Marcus Luttrell, author of Lone Survivor; Jeremiah Workman, author of Shadow of the Sword; and Sean Parnell, author of Outlaw Platoon.[10][11]

As a motivational speaker, Russell embarked on a successful speaking career in hundreds of cities since 2007. He has been featured as a keynote speaker at such notable events as the Ring Banquet at the U.S. Air Force Academy and was honored as the Paul R. Smith Award recipient for his distinguished service in Iraq at the American Veterans Center 15th Annual Awards Gala in 2012.[12] He is managed by Premiere Speakers Bureau of Franklin, Tennessee.[13]

Display of Russell's book We Got Him! published by Simon & Schuster

Russell has also been a successful writer and author. His opinion pieces have appeared in many major publications, and he is the author of We Got Him!: A Memoir of the Hunt and Capture of Saddam Hussein, published by Simon & Schuster in December 2011. An earlier version of the work was published by Deeds Publishing that year. The book has received critical acclaim for its vivid portrayal of combat and the events surrounding the hunt for the Iraqi dictator and his capture.[14] It received numerous endorsements to include General Tommy Franks and the foreword was written by General Ray Odierno.

Russell also has appeared on many national television and radio shows as a military and foreign affairs commentator. In addition, he has made appearances on Spike TV's Deadliest Warrior and four episodes of Outdoor Channel's Gun Stories.

Russell is also the owner and founder of Two Rivers Arms, a small rifle manufacturing business that makes copies of the Iraqi Tabuk AK-47 and Iraqi Tabuk Sniper Rifle.[15][16][17] The company built half a dozen special Iraqi rifle replicas for Clint Eastwood's film American Sniper.[18][19]

Political careerEdit

Russell began his service to the public in 2008 when he defeated four opponents in one of the most contested races in the Oklahoma State Senate that year. Russell won the initial Republican primary with 42% of the vote, leading by 15 points. He won the Republican run off with 67% of the vote.[6]

As a state senator Russell authored the Soldiers Relief Act that made Oklahoma’s serving military tax exempt, affecting over 50,000 soldiers and their families.[20] He also authored the Soldiers Credentialing Act, a law allowing credit for soldiers skills through direct certification rather than additional schooling allowing them to quickly enter the work force. Additionally, Russell authored a number of bills that became law related to the 2nd Amendment. Shortly after the publication of his book, Russell announced he would not seek reelection and he decided to focus on his business, public speaking and veterans advocacy.[21]

In January 2014, Russell announced he would seek the seat of the United States House of Representatives in Oklahoma's 5th congressional district, which was being vacated by James Lankford in his US Senate bid.[22][23] On June 24, 2014, Russell led the field in the six-way Republican Primary.[24] On Tuesday, August 26, 2014, Russell won the run-off despite being heavily outspent to win the Republican nomination.[25] On November 4, 2014, Russell was elected to Congress with 60.1% of the vote, defeating Democratic State Senator Al McCaffrey and three Independent candidates, Buddy Ray, Tom Boggs and Robert Murphy.[26]

On June 28, 2016, Russell won the Republican Primary in his bid for re-election to Congress with more than 80% of the vote, defeating Frank Volpe.[27] On November 8, 2016, Russell was elected to a second term in Congress.[28] On June 26, 2018, Russell was nominated as Republican candidate for a third term with nearly 84% of the vote.[29] However, in a result not foreseen by anyone outside Oklahoma, Russell lost to Democratic opponent Kendra Horn on November 6, 2018. Nearly every rating organization labeled Russell as the favorite, and FiveThirtyEight gave Russell a 93 percent chance of victory.[30] Ultimately, Russell could not overcome a 9,900-vote deficit in Oklahoma County, home to three–fourths of the district's population–more than three times the overall margin of 3,300 votes.[31]


Rep. Russell was the main sponsor of H.R. 194, Federal Agency Mail Management Act of 2017, which became law on November 21, 2017 during the 115th Congress, 1st Session (2017). This bill would require the General Services Administration (GSA) to provide guidance and assistance to federal agencies for effective mail processing, leading to a more efficient, cost-saving system.[32]

Rep. Russell was instrumental in blocking the privatization of air traffic control. Russell's criticism of privatization extended to national security concerns as well as keeping the national airspace open to all Americans. The Federal Aviation Administration's Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center is in Oklahoma City. Russell, along with Congressman Ralph Abraham, was recognized by several national aviation organizations for their efforts and received the 2018 Hartranft Award presented by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.[33]

Committee assignmentsEdit

Personal lifeEdit

Russell is a fifth-generation Oklahoman. His hobbies include teaching Sunday school, reading and studying history, playing the guitar and singing, as well as collecting military antiques and firearms. Russell has been married to the former Cindy Myers of Columbus, Arkansas since 1985. They have five grown children, three of whom were adopted from Hungary. They are members of First Southern Baptist Church in Del City.


Russell is a graduate of Del City High, Class of 1981. He was inducted into the Del City Hall of Fame in its very first class along with professional football player Bob Kalsu who was killed in Vietnam and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist John Smith.

Russell graduated from Ouachita Baptist University with a BA in Public Speaking. He was the president and pledge master of his fraternity and cadet corps commander of the ROTC Cadets.

Russell also earned a MMAS in Military History with a focus on East Asia from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in 1998. His other military education includes the Infantry Officers Basic Course, the Armored Officers Career Course, the Combined Arms Staff School and the Battalion Commanders Course.

Russell's military skills schools include, Airborne School, Ranger School, Northern Warfare Summer and Winter Phase, Mortar School, and the Bradley Gunners and Commanders Courses.

Awards, Decorations and Badges of Steve Russell

Military Awards and DecorationsEdit

Electoral historyEdit

Year Office District Democratic Republican Other
2014 U.S. House of Representatives Oklahoma's 5th district Al McAffrey 36.32% Steve Russell 60.1% Robert T. Murphy (Ind.) 1.4%
2016 U.S. House of Representatives Oklahoma's 5th district Al McAffrey 36.81% Steve Russell 57.09% Zachary Knight (L) 6.1%
2018 U.S. House of Representatives Oklahoma's 5th district Kendra Horn 50.7% Steve Russell 49.3%


  1. ^ Casteel, Chris. "Republican Steve Russell elected to represent Oklahoma City in Congress," 'The Oklahoman' November 4, 2014.
  2. ^ Aquila, Vol. 29, Del City High School, 1981/
  3. ^ Russell is standing 3rd row down from the 'G'/
  4. ^ Ace in the Hole Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ American Patriots Unsung Magazine (March 21, 2018), Sacred Honor - Steve Russell, retrieved November 5, 2018
  6. ^ a b "1st Battalion 22nd Infantry Former CO elected to senate". August 27, 2008. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  7. ^ iPad iPhone Android TIME TV Populist The Page. "Revisiting a Tikrit Ambush - Video -". Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  8. ^ Valorous Unit Award, April 15, 2003 to Mar 15, 2004, 1st Battalion 22nd Infantry cited; Permanent Orders 031-14, 2008, Streamer embroidered IRAQ 2003–2004
  9. ^ Brian C. Scherr, 2006. "rally_okla". Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  10. ^ "Vets for Freedom". Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  11. ^ "Vets on Board". Defend Freedom Tour. Archived from the original on February 21, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  12. ^ "2012 Awards Gala Broadcast". American Veterans Center. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  13. ^ Steve Russell (July 25, 2012). "Steve Russell | Premiere Motivational Speakers Bureau". Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  14. ^ "a book review: We Got Him! A Memoir of the Hunt and Capture of Saddam Hussein". December 6, 2011. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  15. ^ "index.html". Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  16. ^ "Videos – – Oklahoma City, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports |". February 4, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  17. ^ "Del City Gun Shop Struggling To Keep Up With Demand – – Oklahoma City, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports |". Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  18. ^ "Two Rivers Arms makes Enemy Rifles for Upcoming Clint Eastwood Film 'American Sniper'". Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  19. ^ Guns & Ammo AK-47 Issue, p. 82 & ff., September 2015, Guns & Ammo 2016 Annual, p. 42 & ff., Guns & Ammo Combat Arms Fall 2016, p. 122 & ff. Outdoor Sportsman Group, NY, NY; AK-47 & Soviet Weapons Issue #179, p. 34 & ff., Harris Publications Inc., NY, NY
  20. ^ Julie Bisbee • (June 16, 2009). "Editor comments on military tax break". News OK. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  21. ^ Associated, The (October 13, 2011). "Oklahoma state senator won't seek another term". News OK. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  22. ^ "Former State Sen. Steve Russell announces plans to run for Lankford's congressional seat". January 21, 2014. Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  23. ^ "Steve Russell for Congress". Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  24. ^ "Oklahoma elections: Steve Russell and Patrice Douglas head to Republican runoff in 5th Congressional District race". Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  25. ^ "Oklahoma elections: Russell easily wins GOP nod in 5th District congressional race, will face McAffrey in general election". Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  26. ^ "State Election Results, General Election, November 4, 2014". Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  27. ^ "State Election Results, General Election, November 6, 2018". Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  28. ^ Press, Associated. "Steve Russell wins re-election bid to Congress". KOKH. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  29. ^ "Oklahoma Primary Election Results: Fifth House District". Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  30. ^ Wingerter, Justin (November 6, 2018). "Kendra Horn upsets Steve Russell in an Oklahoma City Stunner". The Oklahoman. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  31. ^ Oklahoma House results from CNN
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^ "LTC Steven D. Russell". Retrieved September 8, 2015.

External linksEdit