Hamer helps effort to honor Medal of Honor winners
A project involving Morgan City businessman Greg Hamer moved ahead recently when Louisiana’s congressional delegation and both chambers of the Louisiana Legislature urged the Trump administration to provide a state funeral in Washington for the last World War II Medal of Honor recipient when he passes away.
In all, 473 Americans received the medal, the nation’s highest military honor, for actions during World War II. Three survive, all over 90: Hershel “Woody” Williams of West Virginia, Francis (Frank) Currey of New York and Charles Coolidge of Tennessee.
Joining the effort were U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, both Republicans, and U.S. Reps. Clay Higgins, Steve Scalise, Ralph Abraham, Garrett Graves, Mike Johnson and Cedric Richmond, a Democrat. The other representatives are Republicans. Higgins represents St. Mary and St. Martin parishes in Congress.
Concurrent Resolution No. 112 was shepherded through the Legislature by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and signed by Speaker of the House Taylor Francis Barras and the Senate President Johnn Alario.
The nationwide, bipartisan initiative is led by the nonprofit State Funeral for World War II Veterans, chaired by Lee William (Bill) McNutt.
“I spoke with Governor Edwards in late May in New Orleans,” said Bill McNutt “As a former parachute regiment commander of the famous 82nd airborne, the governor immediately grasped the importance of our mission. He said he could get it done and he did!”
National board member Hamer of Morgan was responsible for getting the Congressional Letter created and signed.
“Every Democrat and Republican that represents us in the Congress in our nation’s capital has happy to sign,” Hamer said.
“The approximate 400,000 remaining veterans of the Second World War will benefit from a State Funeral in Washington DC for the final Medal of Honor recipient from World War II,” said McNutt. “This will be a final salute to the greatest generation, and we’re grateful for the entire Louisiana Congressional delegation and both houses of the State legislatures’ support. They are all in on this initiative. We need as many elected voices as possible from across the county to join this cause if we are to ensure this happens.”
The State Funeral for World War II Veterans’ nationwide campaign calls for the President of the United States to designate a state funeral for the last Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, as a final salute to the 16 million men and women of the greatest generation who served in our armed forces from 1941 to 1945.
The White House holds sole authority to do so and does not require approval from the U.S. Congress to enact. A State Funeral is a seven to 10-day national event and consists of ceremonies within the state where the honoree was in residence. Ceremonies within Washington, D.C., and in the state (or at Arlington National Cemetery) where the authorized individual has chosen to be interred.
All funeral arrangements are made by the U.S. Military District of Washington, D.C., and involve Armed Forces honor guards, elite military bands, and/or guns support (source White House.gov website).
The last two State Funerals were Ronald Reagan in 2004 and George Bush in 2018. The last non-Presidential State Funeral was General Douglas MacArthur in 1964.
This effort is the brainchild of McNutt’s 10-year-old daughter, Rabel, a public school student, in honor of her godfather, Walter Ehlers, the oldest holder of the Congressional Medal of Honor when he died in 2014. He received the honor for his efforts at The Battle for Normandy in June 1944.
Louisiana’s Congressional delegation is one of six state delegations to call for a state funeral for the World War II resolution. The state is also one of five to pass a joint resolution supporting the initiative.