Vancouver boy meets a 'really nice guy' in Obama

By Dave Kern, Columbian assistant metro editor

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Vancouver's Thomas Bieniewicz had a nice moment with Barack Obama in Portland on Tuesday and declared the president a "really nice guy."

Ten-year-old Thomas was on the tarmac with his dad, Col. Mike Bieniewicz, when Air Force One landed at the Oregon Air National Guard Base.

"He wanted to meet the president," said Mike, a 29-year Air Force veteran.

Seems Dad got to meet the president in 2010, and Thomas wanted in on this chance. So, he went to work with Dad.

"That was pretty fun," Thomas said Tuesday night.

"He's a really nice guy, and I personally think he'll probably beat Romney, because he's a really good president."

Thomas is in the Challenge program at Eleanor Roosevelt Elementary School in Vancouver.

"He asked me my age. If I was enjoying school. And if I was having a good summer vacation," Thomas said. "I knew he was a pretty nice guy from the beginning."

Mike is the commander of the combat operations group of the Oregon Air National Guard.

"Being there at the base, I've had a chance to meet several of the presidents," Mike said. The others were Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

"President Obama, he definitely has an energy," Mike said. "He's looking right at you. He's genuinely interested."

The colonel said he was hoping the president would talk to Thomas and said he simply said to Obama, "Sir, it's good to see you again and thanks for coming to Portland."

"He spent a nice moment with Tommy. Tommy was very excited," Mike said.

Mike promotes the Air Force to Thomas. The colonel has been deployed to Turkey, Saudia Arabia and Iceland.

"He likes to talk about the Army and Navy off and on, and I keep putting in a plug for the Air Force. He wants to serve his country."

Thomas is weighing his options.

"I really want to be an engineer for DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)," Thomas said. "Hopefully, I would be in their special division designing weapons for special-ops Navy SEALs."

What was it like to meet Obama?

"It was one of the best moments in my life," Thomas said. "It was an honor.

"I wish I could have had a little more time to sit and chat with him."

Asked how cool it was to meet the president with his dad, Thomas replied, "My dad is my hero."

Mike, whose father was a World War II Army vet, said he and Thomas have a good relationship.

"He's a great boy. I like hanging out with him. He's been going out to the Guard base since he was born."