LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - In Arkansas' 4th Congressional District, Rep. Tom Cotton defeated Gene Jeffress to replace retiring Mike Ross. Cotton's been on Capitol Hill for just a month, but it's the rural roads of Arkansashe'll always call home.
Just off State Highway 28 in Yell County, sits Sunny Side farm. For Congressman Tom Cotton this farm is his home, which hold hundreds of acres and hundreds of memories.
"Basically as soon as my mom thought I was big enough to get out to the farm, maybe a little bit before I was actually big enough to get out here, I took her place and helped my dad with the cattle," recalled Cotton.
In fact, he grew up in the very house where his parents Avis and Len still live today.
"Tom was always very studious, and he's very athletic. He won't tell you a lot of this stuff. He was a very good basketball player in high school, and I enjoyed watching him play games," said his dad Len.
Like most kids, this Dardanelle Sand Lizard had big dreams.
"Like most young boys maybe wanted to be a major league baseball player then a basketball player and so forth. Pretty typical rural upbringing," recalled Cotton.
Instead, he traded the ball for an Ivy League education from Harvard law school. Following 9/11, Cotton left his firm and joined the Army just as his father had.
In 2006, he was deployed to Baghdad. When he returned, he was assigned to Arlington National Cemetery serving with the Old Guard, the unit that guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He also conducted military honors funerals.
In 2008, he was deployed to Afghanistan, but after two tours it became time for another mission. His eyes were set on our nation's capital.
"Once you've been fighting in Baghdad, the idea of running for office isn't too scary," he said.
On Jan. 3, Tom Cotton was sworn in to the U.S. House, and even though he's 35 and a U.S. Congressman, Cotton still looks to his parents for advice.
"I give him advice whether he, he doesn't really need it, like I'm going to tonight since he's here," said his father.
"All the time, solicited and unsolicited," laughed the Congressman.
As for the future, his father hopes his only son will one day take over the family farm. As for Tom Cotton, he's waiting to see where greener pastures lead him.
"One thing I learned about my life after the 9/11 attacks, you know, I never planned to leave the law and go into the Army, so it's good to have a plan, but it's much better to write your plan in pencil because you never know what life and what God is going to throw at you," he said.
Cotton's had a lot thrown his way since taking office. In his first few weeks in Washington, D.C., he's already made a name for himself.
"Do you agree there are probably some men that may not have the physical strength or be able to do some of those missions, too?" asked THV11's Liz Massey.
Coming up tonight on THV 11 News at 10, Part 2 of Liz's THV Extra will cover the controversial statements and votes that have thrust Tom Cotton into the national spotlight--from women in combat to Superstorm Sandy relief.