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
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was 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 family. 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 training. 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 bill. 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 said. 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.