Legislature(2019 - 2020)BUTROVICH 205
02/13/2020 03:30 PM Senate STATE AFFAIRS
Note: the audio and video recordings are distinct records and are obtained from different sources. As such there may be key differences between the two. The audio recordings are captured by our records offices as the official record of the meeting and will have more accurate timestamps. Use the icons to switch between them.
Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 170-NAMING VIETNAM HELI. PILOTS' MEM. BRIDGE 3:32:22 PM CHAIR REVAK announced the consideration of SENATE BILL NO. 170, "An Act naming the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots' Memorial Bridge." Speaking as the sponsor, Senator Revak relayed that Vietnam was a helicopter war and federal legislation has passed to place a memorial in Arlington National Cemetery to honor these helicopter pilots and their crews. CHAIR REVAK invited Darren Napoli to introduce the bill. 3:33:19 PM DARREN NAPOLI, Legislative Intern, Senator Joshua Revak, Alaska State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, introduced SB 170 by reading the following sponsor statement: Helicopter pilots played a pivotal role in the Vietnam War, so much so that the engagement is often remembered as the "Helicopter War". This nickname was well deserved with the helicopter pilots spearheading the efforts of not only securing land in South Vietnam, but also in the casualty evacuation efforts, saving countless lives during the war. With over forty percent of helicopters in Vietnam being destroyed through the course of the War, these brave soldiers put their lives in danger every time they flew, which they did over two million times. The Huey pilots proved early on that they and their helicopters would be central to conducting a campaign in the jungles of Vietnam, but no one knew just how crucial their efforts would be. On February 9th, 1965, the 52nd Combat Aviation battalion successfully lifted 262 troops out of Phu My and brought them to safety while taking heavy enemy fire. On April 19th, 1965, the 119th Aviation Company attempted a similar lift with 420 troops in Phu Cat, however, they received intense enemy ground fire bringing down two armed UH-1Bs, killing all on board, along with a crew member of another UH-1B. On December 29th, 1965, just a few days before New Years', two helicopter pilots, once again, extracted fallen soldiers from a crashed aircraft. They did so while under extremely hazardous conditions as the enemy tried everything they could to bring down the rescue crew. These are just a few examples of the countless missions accomplished by the thousands of Vietnam helicopter pilots over the nineteen years of war. These particular examples occurred in 1965, that same year, Bridge 1124 was built to span the Matanuska river and connect the Mat-Su valley to Anchorage. It is only fitting then that we allow Bridge 1124, a bridge built in the midst of the Vietnam War, along with its neighboring Bridge 1889, to carry a name in honor of the thousands of helicopter pilots that laid down their lives for their country. These courageous men ask for little in return for their immeasurable efforts put forth in Vietnam. The least we, as the State of Alaska, can do for them is to rename the 1124 & 1889 bridges at mile 30.4 on the Glenn Highway in their honor. Such a gesture would forever memorialize and honor the thousands of helicopter pilots that lost their lives and the thousands more who put their life on the line each day to save their fellow soldiers. 3:36:14 PM MR. NAPOLI said it is fitting that bridges 1124 and 1889 are renamed in memoriam to Vietnam helicopter pilots because these bridges have a perfect view of Gold Star Peak, which is a memorial to veterans and the families of those who have fallen in service. The bridges are also close to Reflections Lake that has hiking trails and a view of Gold Star Peak. He directed attention to the map in members' packets. SENATOR COGHILL commented that this is a fitting way to honor people and it serves as a reminder. 3:38:32 PM MIKE LESMANN, Legislative Liaison, Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOTPF), Juneau, Alaska, related that the department not only employs quite a few veterans it also has a special page on its internal website that captures the history of each veteran who provides the information. CHAIR REVAK asked if it is possible for individual groups to raise money for the bridge signs. MR. LESSMAN answered yes, that is a possibility. SENATOR WILSON asked if the bridges were already named either the Knik Bridge or the Matanuska Bridge in honor or a fallen officer. MR. LESSMAN said the Knik River may have the James Bondsteel Bridge. The Matanuska River has a name place sign that identifies the river. 3:41:34 PM LYNN KILE, representing self, Anchorage, Alaska, said he is president of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association, (VHPA) Alaska Chapter and a Vietnam helicopter pilot with 22 years of Army service. He said he would highlight several points from his written testimony that may be in the packets. MR. KILE reported that the Alaska Chapter of VHPA is part of a nation chapter of over 16,500 pilots. There are 82 members in Alaska, although the national database shows 323 Vietnam helicopter pilots reside in Alaska. He pointed out that this is an all-inclusive organization that has associate memberships for flight crews and pilots. An estimated 40,000 pilots flew 11,800 helicopters in Vietnam. Over 4,800 pilots and 5,000 helicopters were lost in that conflict. He said the helicopter contributed to changing the battlefield; soldiers were moved quickly and medivacs increased survival rates to over 82 percent. He said this request for a small historic landmark to contribute to the legacy of a job well done is well deserved. The Alaska Chapter of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association is supportive of SB 170, as written. 3:45:17 PM ERVIN PETTY, Associate Member, Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association, Alaska Chapter, Eagle River, Alaska, said he is retired from the U.S. Air Force after 23 years in the Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service, Pararescue, and also served in Vietnam. He said he was not a pilot but is pleased to see this recognition. CHAIR REVAK thanked Mr. Petty and Mr. Kile for their service during the Vietnam conflict. He shared the following statistics: about 12,000 U.S. military helicopters spent 7.5 million hours flying over Vietnam in 2 million missions. In total, 5,086 helicopters or 42 percent were destroyed by enemy fire, and 2002 pilots and 2704 crew chiefs and gunners were killed. 3:47:46 PM CHAIR REVAK opened and closed public testimony on SB 170. 3:48:21 PM At ease 3:48:51 PM CHAIR REVAK reconvened the meeting and asked if there were questions. SENATOR COSTELLO thanked Senator Revak for introducing the bill and providing the supporting documents. She said she looks forward to seeing the sign on the bridge; it will be a reminder of the sacrifices individuals make in the service of the country. CHAIR REVAK reiterated his appreciation. 3:50:00 PM SENATOR WILSON moved to report SB 170 from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). There being no objection, SB 170 was reported from the Senate Labor and Commerce Standing Committee.