Legislature(2019 - 2020)ADAMS 519
03/02/2020 09:00 AM FINANCE
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HOUSE BILL NO. 223 "An Act naming the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots' Memorial Bridge." 9:18:30 AM REPRESENTATIVE LADDIE SHAW, SPONSOR, addressed the bill with prepared remarks: Thank you for taking the time to hear House Bill 223, entitled "An Act naming the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots' Memorial Bridge." This is a topic that is very close to my heart, as I served two tours in Vietnam. Representative Shaw shared a framed photograph taken 50 years earlier coming back from an operation in Vietnam. The photograph showed a helicopter dropping off wounded Navy Seals and himself. He was honored to have Tom Studler [staff to Representative Dave Talerico] in the audience, who had been a Vietnam helicopter pilot and had served in the delta at the same time as he had. Representative Shaw relayed that he was honored to be invited to be an associate member of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association as a Vietnam veteran and as a certified helicopter pilot. He continued with prepared remarks: I should note that this bill was the idea of Representative Cathy Tilton. She very graciously offered to have me introduce it and carry it, knowing my personal connection to the subject. I really appreciate her graciousness. I would also like to acknowledge the work on this bill done by Representative Tilton's staff, Heath Hilyard. Heath did the bulk of the legwork on this bill, and his work is greatly appreciated. Lastly, I'd like to express my appreciation of the reception this bill has received so far particularly that every veteran in the House signed on as a co- sponsor at introduction. I'm deeply honored by that. With that, I'd like to tell you about my experience, and why I'm so glad to have the opportunity to present this legislation to you? Representative Shaw continued with prepared remarks: Vietnam was called the Helicopter War. During the Vietnam War the United States relied on the helicopter as never before. The helicopter's role in combat expanded enormously in this conflict as thousands of choppers rapidly transported personnel throughout the warzone. Heavily armed helicopters offered a fearsome component to ground operations. As close air support, mobility and fire power would be the keys for American operations in Vietnam, and the helicopter provided an abundance of both. But the role of the helicopter in support of activities in the Vietnam War must not be overlooked, as thousands of missions were flown to resupply, reinforce troops on the ground, to evacuate Americans and South Vietnamese wounded, and to offer countless other services in pursuance of the war effort. The UH-1 or better known as the Huey, was the symbol of the American war in Vietnam. Indeed, the Vietnam War was the Helicopter War. As a side note, there were nearly 12,000 helicopters that flew combat or support missions in Vietnam. Over 5,000 were destroyed. There was a helicopter casualty rate of 45 percent. There are 58,000 names on the wall in Vietnam; 8 percent of those are helicopter pilots and crew. Forty thousand helo pilots served in Vietnam. I'm honored to have flown with them and I very much appreciate your support on this bill. Representative Shaw asked his staff to review the specifics of the legislation. 9:22:21 AM JOSH WALTON, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE LADDIE SHAW, explained that the bill would name bridge numbers 1124 and 1889 - spanning the Matanuska River northbound and southbound at mile 30.4 of the Glenn Highway - the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots' Memorial Bridge. He noted there were two bridges in close proximity to each other in the area. He elaborated that when heading out of Anchorage towards Mat-Su the first bridge is the Bondsteel Bridge, which the bill would not change. The bill pertained to the second bridge, which was a bit farther north and was currently unnamed. The bill would rename the unnamed bridge the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots' Memorial Bridge. Mr. Walton noted that members' packets included photos from Google Maps identifying the bridges. He referenced an academic article included in members' packets about the role helicopters served and how the helicopter came of age. The backup materials also included a few contemporary articles illustrating the role pilots served and some of the challenges they had encountered when their accomplishments had been recognized after the Vietnam War. Mr. Walton highlighted that the bill had the support of Lynn Kile, president of the Alaska chapter of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association. He noted that Mr. Kile would be available to provide testimony and answer questions if requested at a subsequent hearing on the bill. He relayed that the bill had received a letter of support from the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Commissioner Major General Torrence Saxe. He concluded his remarks and was available for questions and offered to provide a sectional analysis if requested. 9:25:37 AM Representative Tilton shared that she was honored and appreciative that Representative Shaw had brought the bill forward. She detailed that she was a daughter, granddaughter, and wife of Vietnam veterans and felt particularly connected to the legislation. She shared that the location of the bridge was suitable because it spanned where the largest population of Vietnam veterans resided - Mat-Su and Anchorage. She noted that the existing Sargant James Bondsteel Bridge was significant because he was a Vietnam veteran who had earned a medal of honor. She read a statement: There are brave Alaskans who gave their "last full measure of devotion" flying or serving on helicopters during the Vietnam War (source:virtualwall.com): • Chief Warrant Officer Lloyd Rainey (Anchorage) Pilot, age 33 • Warrant Officer William Duncan (Anchorage) Pilot, age 22 • Chief Warrant Officer William Walters (Anchorage) Pilot, age 24 • Specialist Richard Bauer (Anchorage) Crew, age 19 • Warrant Officer David Lape (Cordova) Pilot, age 23 • Warrant Officer William Childers (Fairbanks) Pilot, age 21 • Specialist David Ferry (Fairbanks) Crew, age 24 • Specialist Kurt Int-Hout (Kodiak) Crew, age 20 • Warrant Officer Frederick Simeonoff (Spenard) Pilot, age 22 Representative Tilton elaborated that the Alaskan men she had listed gave their lives at very young ages. She believed there was no better way to honor them. Representative Carpenter noted that there were multiple bills being considered that would rename bridges and the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT) had submitted fiscal notes with different price tags. He requested to hear why there was a cost disparity between the posting of signs included in the two bills heard during the meeting. He noted the cost of $9,000 in one bill and $6,000 in the current bill. He did not believe the difference made sense. He supported the bill and believed the bridge naming was well-deserved. Co-Chair Johnston asked if DOT would like to address the fiscal note. Representative Carpenter restated his question. He noted that two bridges were shown at $6,000 and one was $9,000. He asked why there was a cost disparity. MATT WALKER, STATE TRAFFIC AND SAFETY ENGINEER, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND PUBLIC FACILITIES, answered that there were two signs for both directions on the irene Webber Bridge and two signs for both directions on the Glenn Highway for the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots' Memorial Bridge. There was a cost difference between the two. He speculated that there may be more information available on the site conditions on the Glenn Highway bridge because it was more easily accessible. He did not believe the fiscal notes included cost for labor or installation. He did not know the precise reason for the disparity. He offered to follow up on the question. Representative Carpenter requested a follow up on the question. He thought $6,000 to $9,000 for two signs seemed high. HB 223 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further consideration. Co-Chair Johnston reviewed the agenda for the following day.
|HB 223 DMVA Support Letter 2.11.2020.pdf||
HFIN 3/2/2020 9:00:00 AM
|Sponsor Statement HB 186 vM 02.06.2020.pdf||
HFIN 3/2/2020 9:00:00 AM