TRIBUTE TO LOUISIANA WWII VETERANS -- (Senate - April 30, 2008)
Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, I am proud to honor a group of 94 World War II veterans from Louisiana who are traveling to Washington, DC, this weekend to visit the various memorials and monuments that recognize the sacrifices of our Nation's invaluable service members.
Louisiana HonorAir, a group based in Lafayette, LA, is sponsoring this Saturday's trip to the Nation' s Capital. The organization is honoring each surviving World War II Louisiana veteran by giving them an opportunity to see the memorials dedicated to their service. On this trip, the veterans will visit the World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Iwo Jima memorials. They will also travel to Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns.
This is the eighth flight Louisiana HonorAir has made to Washington, DC., and there will be one additional flight this spring.
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 service members 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 more than 40,000 living WWII veterans, and each one has a heroic tale of achieving the noble victory of freedom over tyranny. Veterans in this HonorAir group range in age from 79 to 91. They began their service as early as 1939, before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and some members of this group served as late as 1976. They served in various branches of the military--37 members in the Army; 17 in the Army Air Corps, including one in the Women's Air Corps; 28 in the Navy; 3 in the Naval Reserve; 4 in the Marines; 1 in the Marine Corps Reserve; 2 in the Merchant Marines; and 2 in the U.S. Coast Guard.
Our heroes served across the globe in the Pacific, Atlantic, Asiatic Pacific and China Burma India theaters. Others served in North Africa, Japan, Korea, the islands of the South Pacific and in other areas of Europe and stateside. Our service members battled at Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, Okinawa, Saipan, Tinian and the Solomon Islands.
Many of these veterans earned Purple Hearts, Bronze Star Medals and Croix de Guerre medals. They served on famous battleships such as USS North Carolina, and they participated in the liberation of the Philippines.
I ask the Senate to join me in honoring these 94 veterans, all Louisiana heroes, that we welcome to Washington this weekend and Louisiana HonorAir for making these trips a reality.