Robert K. Dornan

Robert K. Dornan
U.S. Congressman 1977 - 1997

Robert K. Dornan was first elected to Congress in 1976, representing California’s 27th C.D. in western Los Angeles County and served from January 1977 to January 1983. (His seat was reapportioned out of existence). In 1982, Dornan ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate; having entered the race 10 months late, he finished 4th in a field of 13 candidates.

In 1984, he defeated an entrenched liberal incumbent to represent California's 38th Congressional District in central Orange County. Much of the 38th District was reapportioned into an even more Democratic 46th District in 1992, which Dornan represented until 1997. During his entire congressional career Dornan was elected in districts that were overwhelmingly Democrat.

Because of his extensive experience in national security, Dornan was chosen to serve as a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence where he served as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Tactical and Technical Intelligence. He also served on the National Security Committee (Armed Services) where he was the Chairman of the Military Personnel Subcommittee.

As a member of the National Security Committee, Dornan has championed such vital defense programs as the B-1 "Lancer" and B-2 "Spirit" bombers, the F/A 18 "Hornet" and the V-22 "Osprey" tiltrotor, antiballistic missile defense, development of an effective ground combat identification system and maintaining proper levels of Guard and Reserve forces. Bob was also an active leader promoting President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). During the Carter years, Dornan was a leader in the congressional battle to restore the supersonic Strategic Air Command penetrator aircraft, the B-1B "Lancer," which was canceled by President Carter in June of 1977.

Clinton years: Dornan was a key leader in the successful effort to prevent the administration from eliminating the prohibition on homosexuals in the military, and was the sponsor of legislation to codify the ban. Dornan passed legislation to place restriction on a president’s ability to place U.S. forces under foreign command. This legislation was included in the House GOP’s "Contract with America."

Consistent with his life-long commitment to human rights, Dornan has been a staunch defender of innocent pre-born life as the author of successful legislation to prevent federal abortions in the District of Columbia, in military hospitals (both in the U.S. and overseas), in federal prisons and on Native American Indian reservations. Dornan has also been the sponsor of the paramount "Human Life" amendment.


Robert K. Dornan was born in New York City on April 3, 1933 to Harry Joseph and Gertrude(Mickey) McFadden Dornan. The middle of three sons, he married Sallie Hansen of Santa Monica, California on her 21st birthday, April 16, 1955. The Dornans have five children and fourteen grandchildren, seven girls and seven boys. After graduation from Loyola High School in Los Angeles in 1950 and attending Loyola University through 1952. Dornan, at age 19, volunteered for service in the United States Air Force.

After earning his silver wings, Dornan went on to serve as a fighter pilot with the world’s first supersonic jet fighter wing. In 1958, Dornan left active duty and joined the California Air National Guard as an F-86 Sabrejet pilot and an intelligence officer, achieving the rank of captain. He survived two F-86 Sabrejet emergency parachute ejections as well as a smooth "dead stick" forced-landing of a flamed out F-100 "Supersabre" on a desert (neither was pilot error) dry lakebed.

Dornan has piloted every aircraft in the U.S. military arsenal, including the B-2 "Spirit," B-1 "Lancer," U-2 , SR-71 "Blackbird," AV-8 "Harrier," and F-15E "Eagle" as well as the Israeli "Kfir,’ and Israeli F-15 and F-16, the British "Tornado" "Harrier," and "Hawk," and the French "Mirage." In 1994 Dornan flew with the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds. Dornan produced and hosted his own television public affairs programs in Los Angeles from 1965 to 1976. In 1968 and 1969 he was awarded Emmys for hosting a live four hour daily political discussion program. Active in domestic civil rights during the 1960s, he marched with Martin Luther King and registered black voters in the south. Dornan originated both the POW/MIA bracelet worn by more than 13 million Americans during the Vietnam War and the "Prisoner of Conscience" bracelet worn for Soviet Jewish and Christian dissidents.

As a news correspondent, Dornan traveled extensively, including 12 food-relief night flights to Biafra in 1969. He also traveled to Vietnam ten times, and Laos and Cambodia four times during the Vietnam War, and ten times beyond the Iron Curtain.

Some Awards and Honors:

History not promises
The fighter with a heart
Bob on Civil Rights
Bob on the Environment
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