Meet the Press   |  December 22, 2013

Inhofe shares tragic story of loss

Sen. James Inhofe sits down with David Gregory to open up about the recent loss of his son in a plane crash.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> time on capitol hill to report about the latest political crisis or some hot issue up there, but this week i was in the senate office building for a very different reason. last month oklahoma senator jim inhofe faced an unspeakable tragedy. his son perry , 52 years old, died in a plane crash . senator inhofe hasn't spoken publicly about it until now. as he prepares to gather with family for the holidays, he wanted to share his story. for senator jim inhofe , politics is his life. but flying is his passion. he got his pilot license as a young man, and around oklahoma, he is known to fly himself to campaign events. that skill, he says, got him into the u.s. senate .

>> back in 1994 , i was running in a race that i was 32 points behind, but i was everywhere. i would get into one of my planes and i could be from the panhandle down to southeastern oklahoma in a matter of two hours, and it took my opponent about seven hours to do the same thing.

>> reporter: a love passed down to his two sons, perry and jimmy who, every year, made the trip with their father to the famed oshkosh air show . but last month, a family tradition turned tragic. perry inhofe crashed while flying a twin engine plane outside tulsa. he was one day short of his 52nd birthday.

>> on final approach into tulsa international airport , runway 18 left. we don't know certain things, an engine that was down, but the last communication was garbled, so we don't know if it shut down or if he shut it down. that would make a difference in what happened. he knew it was going down. he avoided an area with houses and people and went into a wooded area. that's perry .

>> he had a lot of training, just like you.

>> he had a lot more training than me. my other son and i are not quite as meticulous as perry has always been about flying by the numbers, doing everything right. he was 100%.

>> i have young kids. i've got an 11-year-old and 8-year-old twins, and i think like any parent, you worry about them hurting themselves or, god forbid , them losing their lives. and perry was a grown man with a family of his own, but you have to be thinking like a young father, too, about this is your boy. how are you doing with that?

>> it's something that you don't understand until it happens. i can remember so many friends of mine who have lost their kids, and you don't know what to say. you can't say, i know how you feel because you don't know. now i know. and i have no doubt that perry and i are going to be together again.

>> you have a strong faith.

>> well, it's not just strong faith. it goes beyond just getting back as far as jesus. some of the listeners out there might want to look up 2nd samuel 1 12:23 . this same thing happened to david. he said, i won't be coming back here but i will see you again. and i have no doubt about that.

>> and it gives you enormous comfort?

>> it does. it makes me kind of look forward to