Legislature(2005 - 2006)BELTZ 211

05/05/2005 03:30 PM Senate STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Recessed to a Call of the Chair --
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
           HB 277-GAMBLE-SPERL UAS JOINT USE FACILITY                                                                       
CHAIR THERRIAULT announced HB 277 to be up for consideration.                                                                   
4:15:13 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BETH KERTTULLA,  sponsor, introduced  Don Sperl's                                                               
SENATOR KIM ELTON, Co-Sponsor, asked  the committee to understand                                                               
that Charles  Gamble Jr.'s parents  weren't able to  attend what,                                                               
for  them,  would  be  a  very emotional  meeting  due  to  their                                                               
advanced age and frail health.  He explained that Charles and Don                                                               
both  grew up  in Juneau  and were  sent to  Vietnam after  basic                                                               
Charles attained the rank of  specialist fourth class and he died                                                               
October 28,  1969 as a result  of a helicopter crash  in Vietnam.                                                               
Don attained  the rank of corporal  and he died May  8, 1968 from                                                               
wounds received in the line of duty.                                                                                            
He explained that  the facility they propose to  name after these                                                               
men is a  joint use facility that will be  shared by the National                                                               
Guard and the University of  Alaska Southeast. The guard will use                                                               
part of  the facility as  an armory  and the university  will use                                                               
part  as a  student recreation  center. This  unusual and  unique                                                               
facility  was built  on  a  shared basis  with  State of  Alaska,                                                               
University of  Alaska and federal  dollars. It is located  on the                                                               
Juneau campus and will be completed in July '05.                                                                                
Three  years  ago  he  began  working  with  the  guard  and  the                                                               
university  to name  this facility  after Don  Sperl and  Charles                                                               
Gamble Jr.  During that time  he found that the  different naming                                                               
procedures  aren't complimentary.  Although the  guard agreed  to                                                               
put   the   request   before  the   soon-to-be-appointed   naming                                                               
committee, that  committee has  yet to be  appointed. Now  he has                                                               
been told  that the guard  is waiting until  the end of  the Iraq                                                               
War before proceeding.                                                                                                          
He related  the experience of  visiting the Vietnam  Memorial and                                                               
seeing Charles Gamble Jr. and  Don Sperl's names listed there. He                                                               
said  that is  the only  memorial he's  seen that  has those  two                                                               
names  on  it and  it's  thousands  of  miles from  Juneau.  It's                                                               
entirely appropriate  that their  names be attached  to something                                                               
in  Juneau "where  they grew  up  and developed  their notion  of                                                               
service to neighborhood,  to community, to region,  to state, and                                                               
to the nation."                                                                                                                 
In conclusion  he said he  could think  of no better  facility to                                                               
carry  the  names  of  these  two heroes.  It  will  be  used  by                                                               
university students, members of  the community and National Guard                                                               
members  who have  dedicated their  lives to  serving the  United                                                               
States in uniform. "It's extremely  important to be reminded that                                                               
in  the past  there are  people who  took the  notion of  service                                                               
extremely  seriously  and  because  they  did  and  because  they                                                               
adopted and  used the  values that grew  in this  community, they                                                               
lost their lives."                                                                                                              
He encouraged  the committee to pass  the bill so that  these men                                                               
could be honored and so that  people in the community could learn                                                               
from the sacrifice that they made.                                                                                              
4:22:06 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   BILL   THOMAS,   JR.,   Co-Sponsor,   took   the                                                               
opportunity to point  out how timely the bill  is because Vietnam                                                               
Veteran's recognition  week is from  May 1 to  May 7. He  told of                                                               
knowing Don  Sperl through high  school basketball and  said that                                                               
those  who  are  familiar  with local  basketball  know  that  it                                                               
establishes a bond for life.                                                                                                    
In 1968 he was on a stopover in  Japan on the way to Vietnam when                                                               
he was surprised and pleased to  meet up with Don. He'd known him                                                               
for several years, but he didn't  know that Don was an Army medic                                                               
who was also headed to Vietnam.  Sometime after that he read that                                                               
Don Sperl had died.                                                                                                             
He said  he supports the bill;  he knows the families;  and he is                                                               
proud to  ask that  the men's  names be put  on the  building. He                                                               
added that in the sad event  that someone from Juneau dies in the                                                               
Iraq War that name could be added at a later time.                                                                              
4:25:38 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  THERRIAULT  asked  Representative   Kerttula  if  she  had                                                               
additional comments.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA  said she had  neglected to say  that the                                                               
university supports putting the names on the building.                                                                          
SENATOR ELTON  read a  portion of the  letter from  Major General                                                               
Phil Oates  who was Adjutant  General of the Army  National Guard                                                               
at the time.                                                                                                                    
     A  nominating  committee will  be  formed  in the  near                                                                    
     future   and   I   will  forward   your   request   for                                                                    
     consideration.  Thank you  for your  input and  we look                                                                    
     forward to supporting the people of Juneau.                                                                                
He explained that  he read that to demonstrate  that the attitude                                                               
at  the time  was  that  it is  appropriate  to recognize  Juneau                                                               
service men that died  in the line of duty. He  said he'd like to                                                               
think that that  would be the net effect with  the passage of the                                                               
CHAIR THERRIAULT  acknowledged he  hadn't followed the  issue and                                                               
until  just  before the  hearing  he  hadn't  been aware  of  any                                                               
concern.  He noted  the cautionary  statements from  the military                                                               
and asked for comment.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATNVE THOMAS  responded that he  too had read  the email                                                               
and he  thinks it  is inappropriate  to wait  to name  a building                                                               
until  someone else  has died.  We  should honor  those who  have                                                               
already  died and  not look  forward  to someone  else dying,  he                                                               
SENATOR ELTON added  that if something tragic  happens to another                                                               
Juneau family it would be  appropriate to recognize that. When he                                                               
testified before  the House  committee he  made a  commitment. If                                                               
someone else  from Juneau  were to  die in the  line of  duty, he                                                               
would  be the  first  person to  work with  the  family. If  they                                                               
request  that their  son's or  daughter's  name be  added to  the                                                               
building then  he would work toward  that end. If they  request a                                                               
different memorial  then he  would work  for that.  He emphasized                                                               
that it's  taken 35 years  to recognize  these two young  men who                                                               
died in  the Vietnam War and  he wasn't going to  let that happen                                                               
to another Juneau family.                                                                                                       
He  noted the  resolution from  the  City and  Borough of  Juneau                                                               
Assembly in support of naming the building as proposed.                                                                         
4:31:05 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR CHARLIE  HUGGINS outlined military naming  procedures and                                                               
noted that  the facility is  a regional facility.  He recommended                                                               
that  the  committee defer  action  to  hear from  Major  General                                                               
Campbell who would be in the building the following day.                                                                        
4:35:35 PM                                                                                                                    
BONNIE LINDEGAARD,  Juneau, stated that she  was representing the                                                               
class of  1965 and the  family of Donald  Sperl in support  of HB
277. She read  a supporting letter from a  classmate and outlined                                                               
Mr. Sperl's many and varied accomplishments.                                                                                    
4:38:57 PM                                                                                                                    
CARLOS  CADIENTE, Auke  Bay, described  Charles Campbell  and Don                                                               
Sperl  as friends,  classmates,  athletes  and outstanding  young                                                               
men. It  would be a  great tribute to  Don and Charles,  who made                                                               
the ultimate sacrifice,  to name the building in  their honor, he                                                               
said. It  would also be a  belated thank you to  all the Alaskans                                                               
who served in Vietnam.                                                                                                          
4:40:56 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  THERRIAULT  said  he would  like  to  accommodate  General                                                               
Campbell  and hold  the bill  until  the following  day. He  then                                                               
asked if Marty Whitney was Charles Gamble's sister.                                                                             
SENATOR ELTON said that's correct.  He said he understood Senator                                                               
Huggins'  recommendation and  asked  that  General Campbell  meet                                                               
with members of the family.                                                                                                     
CHAIR THERRIAULT  announced he would  set HB 277 aside  until the                                                               
following day.                                                                                                                  

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