Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/01/1996 05:05 PM MLV
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON MILITARY AND VETERANS' AFFAIRS February 1, 1996 5:05 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Pete Kott, Co-Chair Representative Ivan Ivan, Co-Chair Representative Eldon Mulder, Vice Chair Representative Ed Willis Representative Richard Foster Representative John Davies MEMBERS ABSENT Representative Gail Phillips COMMITTEE CALENDAR COMMENTS BY GENERAL LESTENKOF CONCERNING THE DEPT. OF MILITARY AND VETERANS AFFAIRS - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD PRESENTATION OF THE BRONZE STAR TO MR. LEO LAND PREVIOUS ACTION None. WITNESS REGISTER MG JAKE LESTENKOF, Adjutant General/Commissioner Department of Military and Veterans Affairs P.O. Box 5800 Fort Richardson, Alaska 99505-5800 Telephone: (907) 428-6003 POSITION STATEMENT: Presented Bronze Star to Mr. Leo Land. LEO A. LAND P.O. Box 122 Haines, Alaska 99827 Telephone: (907) 766-2466 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified about World War II experiences and received Bronze Star. GERALD J. DORSHER, Alaska State Commander Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States P.O. Box 240003 Douglas, Alaska 99824 Telephone: (907) 364-3346 POSITION STATEMENT: Presented pin to Mr. Leo A. Land. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 96-1, SIDE A Number 0003 CO-CHAIR PETE KOTT called the House Special Committee on Military and Veterans' Affairs meeting to order at 5:05 p.m. Members present at the call to order were Representatives Kott, Ivan, Mulder, Willis, Foster and Davies. Absent was Representative Phillips. CO-CHAIR KOTT welcomed General Lestenkof and explained that the purpose of the meeting was to re-present the Bronze Star to Leo Land, who had approached Co-Chair Kott a couple of weeks earlier for some assistance. Co-Chair Kott described Mr. Land as a "sourdough with a smile." He called upon General Lestenkof to make a few comments. Number 0041 MG JAKE LESTENKOF, Adjutant General/Commissioner, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, explained that the Bronze Star being presented was the reissuance of a medal Leo Land had been awarded in 1946 for services during World War II. The original Bronze Star medal had been awarded by an admiral in Alaska. General Lestenkof gave the following account: "Private Leo A. Land of Company I of the 4th Infantry volunteered to go on a rescue mission for the Navy at Adak in the Aleutian Islands, during one of the worst storms seen in many years. The winds were gusting over a 120 miles per hour, creating total white- out conditions. Private Land, because of his devotion to duty, and at great risk to himself, succeeded in rescuing a PVY crew which had been reported as sinking in the bay on the island. Although Private Land knew the complete shoreline of Adak Island, it took approximately eight hours to go eight miles. Private Land was accompanied by Private Arthur Upicksoun. Private Upicksoun was an Eskimo chosen by Private Land to accompany him. Private Upicksoun has since passed away. The North Pacific Naval Commander recommended the Bronze Star in '43, and it was awarded to Leo in December of 1946 at Fort Richardson by an Army general." Number 0078 GENERAL LESTENKOF asked Mr. Land to recount his story for those present while General Lestenkof was pinning the medal on him. Number 0082 LEO A. LAND explained that his original medal, which had been donated years before to the governor's office, had recently been stolen. He had only discovered the loss after he asked Governor Knowles to give his Bronze Star to then-new president Clinton to place in the White House "to stay there forever." Consequently, Mr. Land sent letters to the President and the Governor requesting a new medal. It was important that a general or admiral pin the medal on him, he said, "and General Lestenkof was kind enough to do it." Mr. Land expressed appreciation to the committee and to the people who assisted in the ceremony. He further expressed his intention of having Senator Stevens or his aides give the replacement medal and accompanying plaque to the President in Washington, D.C. Number 0172 GENERAL LESTENKOF recounted how in September of 1995, the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II had been commemorated. "I was in Hawaii for that occasion and thousands and thousands of World War II people participated," he said. "We have a lot to thank for this group of veterans. They came back from that war and built America. So, thank you very much, Leo." Number 0186 CO-CHAIR KOTT explained that the plaque that would be sent to the President, in hopes it would be hung in the White House, read: "The Bronze Star medal is presented by Senator Ted Stevens to President Bill Clinton to remind Congress and this nation that veterans are dying on America's streets because of the cuts to veterans' health care. We cannot afford to pay for medicines and doctors. We earned lifetime medical care. Please display this medal from Leo A. Land of Haines, Alaska, in the White House as long as there is an America." CO-CHAIR KOTT noted there was a second presentation, by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) commander. Number 0198 GERALD J. DORSHER, Alaska State Commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, presented a pin to Mr. Land, explaining that the VFW Commander-in-Chief had given him the privilege of giving the pin to Mr. Land "as a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Haines, Alaska." CO-CHAIR KOTT thanked everyone for their attendance and conveyed his congratulations to Mr. Land. ADJOURNMENT There being no further business to conduct, CO-CHAIR KOTT adjourned the House Special Committee on Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee meeting at 5:20 p.m.