Mary Landrieu

Tribute to Louisiana WWII Veterans - Oct. 19, 2009

Mary Landrieu
October 19, 2009— U.S. Sentate, Washington, DC
Congressional floor speech
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Mr. President, I am proud to honor a group of 92 World War II veterans from all over Louisiana who travelled to Washington, DC, on October 10 to visit the various memorials and monuments that recognize the sacrifices of our Nation's invaluable servicemembers.

Louisiana HonorAir, a group based in Lafayette, LA, sponsored this trip to the Nation's Capital. The organization is honoring surviving World War II Louisiana veterans by giving them an opportunity to see the memorials dedicated to their service. The veterans visited the World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Iwo Jima Memorials. They also traveled to Arlington National Cemetery.

This was the second of three flights Louisiana HonorAir made to Washington, DC, this fall. It is the 19th flight to depart from Louisiana, which has sent more HonorAir flights than any other State to the Nation's Capital.

World War II was one of America's greatest triumphs but was also a conflict rife with individual sacrifice and tragedy. More than 60 million people worldwide were killed, including 40 million civilians, and more than 400,000 American servicemembers were slain during the long war. The ultimate victory over enemies in the Pacific and in Europe is a testament to the valor of American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines. The years 1941 to 1945 also witnessed an unprecedented mobilization of domestic industry, which supplied our military on two distant fronts.

In Louisiana, there remain today about 30,000 living WWII veterans, and each one has a heroic tale of achieving the noble victory of freedom over tyranny. This group had 36 veterans who served in the U.S. Army, 14 in the Army Air Corps, 34 in the Navy, 4 in the Marine Corps, one in the Merchant Marines, one in the Coast Guard, and 2 were a part of Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services, WAVES.

Our heroes, many of them from South Louisiana, trekked the world for their country. They fought in Germany, Holland, France, Italy, Africa, Guam, Bougainville, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, the Philippines, New Guinea, Japan, and Saipan. Their journeys included the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, and Normandy.

One of our Army Air Corps was held as a prisoner of war after his aircraft was shot down over Germany. Three other Army veterans fought bravely in the Battle of the Bulge, all three receiving a Purple Heart and one receiving three Bronze stars for his service.

One Navy veteran earned 10 medals for his service in the Pacific. An Army Air Corps veteran served in 20 combat missions in Europe between 1942 and 1955. Another Navy veteran was present for the surrender at Tokyo Bay in 1945.

One Navy veteran was serving in Pearl Harbor during the infamous Japanese attack in 1941. Eight veterans received Purple Hearts and five of them were held as prisoners of war.

I am also proud to acknowledge that of the 92 veterans who visited Washington this past weekend, 2 were women who served our country with honor and distinction during World War II.

I ask the Senate to join me in honoring these 92 veterans, all Louisiana heroes, who visited Washington, and Louisiana HonorAir for making these trips a reality.

155 Congr. Rec. S10518. (2009).