NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2006 -- (House of Representatives - May 25, 2005)
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Mr. HOLDEN. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006. I am pleased Chairman HUNTER and Ranking Member SKELTON were agreeable in adding my legislation to create the Combat Medevac Badge in the bill. I would also like to thank Congressman GEOFF DAVIS for his support in offering my legislation as an amendment during mark-up.
Two years ago I was approached by the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 542 in Central Pennsylvania, who told me great stories of heroism performed by DUSTOFF pilots and crews during the Vietnam War. But despite their heroic acts, the Vietnam Veterans of America continued to struggle to establish a combat badge in honor of these brave pilots and medics.
Upon my meeting with the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 542, I introduced legislation to establish the Combat Medevac Badge to recognize these Medevac pilots and crews. Simply stated, my legislation would make any person who served in combat as a pilot or crewmember of a Medevac unit beginning June 25, 1950 eligible for the Combat Medevac Badge.
Current law provides for two honor recognitions, the Combat Medical Badge and the Combat Infantryman Badge. The basic eligibility standards for both of these awards were crafted during World War II, a time before helicopters entered the field of battle for rescue and medical evacuation purposes.
Non-Medevac pilots and co-pilots, who flew aircraft during the Korean War, and every war since then, have long been recognized with a Combat Badge. However, because of an omission in the statute, Medevac crews that operate rescue helicopters have never been eligible for the same recognition.
Last week, this omission was corrected during the Defense Authorization mark-up, when Congressman Davis offered an amendment to establish the Combat Medevac Badge, which was passed en bloc. I commend Congressman DAVIS for taking the lead in committee and bringing this long overdue award one step closer to fruition.
Mr. Chairman, I would again like to commend Chairman HUNTER, Ranking Member SKELTON, and Congressman DAVIS for their leadership in bringing forth this very good bill and including the establishment of the Combat Medevac Badge. I would also like to thank my colleague from Pennsylvania, JOE PITTS, for all of his assistance and hard work. Lastly, I would like to recognize John Travers and Mike McLaughlin of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 542 for brining this to my attention and for all of their time and dedication to the effort.
Medevac pilots and crews have performed heroically during times of military conflict. This long overdue award will acknowledge their service to our country.
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