Legislature(2019 - 2020)ADAMS 519

03/02/2020 09:00 AM House FINANCE

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HOUSE BILL NO. 223                                                                                                            
     "An Act naming the  Vietnam Helicopter Pilots' Memorial                                                                    
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                                                                    
     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                                                                    
     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                                                                    
HB  223  was  HEARD  and   HELD  in  committee  for  further                                                                    
Co-Chair  Johnston reviewed  the  agenda  for the  following                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 223 DMVA Support Letter 2.11.2020.pdf HFIN 3/2/2020 9:00:00 AM
HB 223
Sponsor Statement HB 186 vM 02.06.2020.pdf HFIN 3/2/2020 9:00:00 AM
HB 186