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Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions S. 1386

Location: Washington, DC


S. 1386. A bill to amend titles 10 and 14, United States Code, to provide for the use of gold in the metal content of the Medal of Honor; to the Committee on Armed Services.

Mr. KERRY. Madam President, today I introduce a bill that would help give our most highly honored veterans a medal more worthy of their bravery and sacrifice by requiring the use of 90 percent gold in the Congressional Medal of Honor instead of gold-plated brass, as is currently used.

The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest award our country bestows for valor in action against an enemy force. These are ordinary soldiers who performed extraordinary deeds in battle, often giving what President Lincoln termed "the final full measure" in doing so.

This is the medal won by Marine Corps pilot, Captain Joe Foss, who in less than 30 days of combat over Guadalcanal, shot down 23 enemy planes, three in one engagement, and is credited with turning-back an entire Japanese bombing mission before it could drop a single bomb.

This is the medal won by Army Private Edward Moskala who set aside his personal safety one night on the Island of Okinawa to assault two machine gun nests, provide cover for his unit as it withdrew, and rescue fallen comrades amidst a hail of enemy fire before finally suffering a mortal wound.

This is the medal won by Pharmacist's Mate First Class Francis Pierce, Jr., who on the island of Iwo Jima
exposed himself repeatedly to enemy fire to save the lives of Marines he accompanied, traversing open terrain to rescue comrades and assaulting enemy positions that endangered his wounded comrades.

This is the medal won by Marine Corps Second Lieutenant Robert Dale Reem, who on the night of November 6, 1950, after leading three separate assaults on an enemy position in the vicinity of Chinhung-ni, Korea, threw himself on top of an enemy grenade that landed amidst his men.

This is the medal won by Air Force Captain Hilliard A. Wilbanks who made repeated strafing runs over an advancing enemy element near Dalat, Republic of Vietnam on February 24, 1967. Captain Wilbanks' aircraft, it should be noted, was neither armed nor armored. He made the assaults by sticking his rifle out the window and flying low over the enemy. His action saved the lives of friendly forces, but it cost him his own.

The feats that earned these medals are the stuff of legend. But they are not legends. They are actual deeds that inspire humility and gratitude in all of us. In bestowing the Congressional Medal of Honor, the president enrolls the recipient in a sacred club of heroes.

Regrettably, the medal itself, though gold in color, is actually brass plated with gold. It costs only about $30 to craft the award itself. I will be the first to tell you that the value of the Congressional Medal of Honor is not in the metal content of the award, but in the deeds done to earn it. But if you compare the $30 we invest in this, our Nation's highest award for valor, with the $30,000 Congressional medals presented to foreign dignitaries, famous singers, and other civilians, you will agree that we can do better.

Put simply, this legislation will forge a medal more worthy of the esteem with which the nation holds those few who have earned the Congressional Medal of Honor through valor and heroism beyond compare.
I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the RECORD.

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