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Iraq war veteran Clayton Hinchman running for U.S. House seat now held by Mo Brooks

HUNTSVILLE, Ala --  Clayton Hinchman, a decorated U.S Army veteran, announced his bid for Congress Wednesday.

It’s the 34-year-old West Point graduate’s first run for public office.

He’s running as a Republican, seeking the seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks.

Hinchman chose to make his announcement at the Madison County Veterans Memorial.

“I know all about sacrifice,” he told the crowd Wednesday afternoon. “Just a few days ago, this month, in 2008, while conducting a night raid to kill or capture Al Qaeda in Iraq, I stepped on a pressure wire improvised explosive device and subsequently I lost my right leg.”

He had to recover from severe injuries and he described the loss of his military career as devastating.

But he turned his energies in new directions, starting a family and a company.

“Looking back, I took more out of Iraq than it ever took out of me,” he said.

Despite his own trials, Hinchman said he doesn’t feel entitled, but rather indebted to America.

“I have built successful businesses, and I have created jobs,” he said. “I’ve served this country overseas and I have proudly made sacrifices. And I will sacrifice again.”

Hinchman said too many incumbent politicians seek to divide Americans by sects, to keep their hold on power. He pledged to try and improve the lives of all Americans.

Brooks has been criticized for not being available to the public, declining to hold public town hall meetings over the past several months.  Hinchman plans a different approach.

“We’ve been told, and what I’ve heard, is the fact that the 5th District needs a leader who’s willing to listen to the people and then take that message to Washington,” he said.

If Brooks winds up running again for the seat he’s held since 2010, he would present a formidable challenge. But Hinchman said he’s used to long odds, from getting into West Point, graduating as the honor graduate from U.S. Army Ranger school, serving in Iraq, earning a master’s degree from Georgetown and now, seeking a congressional seat.

“Here we are today, running for Congress,” he said. “But here I am. Improbable and impossible is what I do.”

Mo Brooks on Monday announced he is seeking the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions. That race will be decided by December and its outcome could have a major effect on who’ll be seeking the Huntsville-area congressional seat.