House Armed Services chairman offers tribute to Thatcher

McKeon called Britain’s so-called Iron Lady “one of freedom’s great champions” in a statement released after her death.

The lawmaker also credited an old friend of Thatcher’s — former President Ronald Reagan — in reviving the U.S. military by expanding the defense budget.

“We’re still driving the same tanks, running the same ships and flying the same planes that [former Defense Secretary] Donald Rumsfeld bought, back when he was working for President Nixon,” said McKeon in the ceremony at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington, a line that drew applause from the audience.

Gen. Charles G. Boyd was also honored with his own Distinguished Service Award that night. Boyd, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for more than six years, was presented with the award by a tearful Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of former President Eisenhower.

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist was spotted mingling at the reception held ahead of the dinner, but left before the awards were given out. Other notable guests at the dinner included AIG CEO Maurice Greenberg and Zalmay Khalilzad and Dov Zakheim from the Center for Strategic and International Studies.