Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/01/1996 05:05 PM MLV

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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                                                            
 VETERANS AFFAIRS                                                              
      -  SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                               
 PRESENTATION OF THE BRONZE STAR TO MR. LEO LAND                               
 PREVIOUS ACTION                                                               
 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                 
 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.                                              
 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.                                                

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