Sen. Bob Bennett called Lt. Col. Paul A. Bloomquist's induction into the Utah Aviation Hall of Fame, particularly fitting in view of current events. The Korean and Vietnam War medevac pilot served at a time when communism was the threat which the U.S. and its foes were fighting by proxy, he said. Ultimately however, Bloomquist lost his life due to the actions of a terrorist group in Germany, the Baaden-Meinhoff Gang.
"The American military has established a degree of peace in the world which the world has not seen in over a century," Bennett said. "But the threat is still there, not from nation states in a traditional kind of battle, but from terrorists who would attack us in our homes, would attack us in our restaurants and cafes ..."
Bennett said, "Colonel Bloomquist, who was able to survive and prevail in a traditional war setting, was killed in a terrorist war setting.
"So, by putting him in the hall of fame today we are demonstrating once again not only our respect for the past and for the service he provided, but for our understanding of the necessity for continuing the resolve to the future," he said. "Because none of us will be safe, and none of those whom we have come to know, and deal with and respect around the world, will be safe until the terrorist threat is defeated.
"To have a casualty of the terrorist threat installed on this particular Memorial Day in the hall of fame here at Hill Air Force Base is particularly fitting," he said.
"So we remember those who have died, and we remember those who have served, but we also remember on this day the task that still lies ahead and demonstrate our determination to see to it that that task, too, will be taken care of as heroically and with as much resolve and especially courage as Colonel Bloomquist did with his task," Bennett concluded as he praised Bloomquist's selection and those who had made the choice to induct him into the hall of fame..
Bloomquist's brother, Wayne, thanked all those who attended through a written transcript read by the moderator of the event, Maj. (Ret.) Pat Gilmore. Other family members participated in the ceremony as did Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, Utah National Guard commander, who noted Bloomquist was the first official Army inductee into the Utah Aviation Hall of Fame. Tarbet said, however, that some of the earlier members inducted were technically Army as well since they were members of the Army Air Corps. "There are many, many soldiers whose lives have been saved because of these medevac pilots," he said. "We have a lot to live up to because of this man."
"It is a great privilege to wear this uniform today because of the great men and women who have worn it before," Tarbet added later in his remarks.
Historic Chapel events
At a ceremony, "Fields of Valor," which followed nearby in the museum's Historic Chapel, Bennett also took the time to offer some observations.
Bennett recalled hearing the description given by former Sen. Robert Dole, R-Kansas, as they toured a facility where Dole had been treated after his severe injuries in World War II. Bennett said Dole was loath to talk about his experiences, but he did on this occasion share some things about his recovery. Although the facility no longer served as a hospital and was being redone as an office building, he pinpointed the area in which his hospital bed had been. Bennett said Dole then pointed to the nearby location where Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, had also been located as he was recuperating from losing his arm and that Sen. Philip Hart, D-Mich., had also been treated in the very same facility at the same time. Inouye was a great bridge player, he recounted, using a tray to hold his cards. Hart wasn't wounded quite so badly and would leave the hospital and bring back "decent food." Dole would be moved around by the staff and put next to others who needed to be cheered up because "I could tell jokes." Dole was the most wounded of the three, so badly wounded the staff thought he wouldn't have any kind of life thereafter. But Dole recovered, served in the Senate, and now every Saturday and Sunday leads tours around the World War II monument he worked to help establish.
Bennett said this served as a kind of brotherhood between Dole and the other two and served their generation well through their service in the Senate.
He recalled their heroism and said, "We should never forget the sacrifice that was made, not only by those who died, but by those who came back and put their lives back together. It's altogether fitting that on Memorial Day we remember."
Bill Shepherd offered some perspective in one of the short presentations prior to Bennett's saying, "If we're beginning to stun you with the magnitude of (the numbers of the war dead and missing noted in each resting place), we're accomplishing our mission."
America did little to recover, identify and bury its warriors -- the dead were buried where they fell, in mass graves, prior to the Civil War, said Rear Admiral (Ret.) Bear Taylor in his presentation.
The Civil War was the period of time when the War Department issued General Order No. 75 ordering military hospitals to keep accurate mortuary records. "It did not provide for burial sites or for disposition of those who died on campaign (while on foreign soil)," said Taylor. In 1862, General Order No. 33 established two precedents. The responsibility for disposition of bodies in the field rested on the commanders in charge there and also that they had a duty to identify and bury the dead as far as possible in resting places with identifying markers or numbers. Taylor noted that despite all these efforts there will always be those instances where the fallen cannot be recovered or identified, especially those lost at sea.
Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Marc Reynolds, in his presentation said that while serving in France he had the occasion to spend some time near the trench lines from World War I and came across a German cemetery. The resting place looked as though it probably hadn't had any work done on it, as though not a blade of grass had been trimmed in 40 years. "I realized then what an extraordinary effort we make to commemorate those Americans who died for our freedom overseas," Reynolds said.
Sen. Hatch's composition
Sen. Orrin Hatch's aide, Sandy Kester, presented background material on his reasons for writing the song, "Morning Breaks at Arlington." Hatch lost his brother Jesse in World War II in a raid on Hitler's oil fields and has since lost two brothers-in-law who have served in military conflicts. Hatch said he wrote the song because of all of those who had sacrificed their lives for freedom. He noted in his written remarks that every time he and his wife, Elaine, go to Arlington, it is always a spiritual experience. "My heart goes out to those families who have lost loved ones who are buried in Arlington ... These brave military soldiers have not died in vain," Hatch's aide said as she read his account. "Many have died to preserve and protect our freedoms that we should never take for granted. We owe it to those Soldiers, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Air Force and Coast Guard to always remember their sacrifices but especially those who gave their last ounce of devotion that we might live in freedom."
The American Battle Monuments ceremony was followed by a ringing of the chapel bells 54 times for Utahns in remembrance of their sacrifices in the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A flyover by the 388th Fighter Wing completed the event after Taps, the raising of the flag from half-mast and a trio of veterans in uniform who shot their weapons three times into the air to mark the occasion.
A purple heart was awarded posthumously to Lloyd Chipman who died in 1944. His sister, Edna Barnes, accepted it as Sen. Bennett noted that Chipman lay in just such a military cemetery as those that had been talked about.
The Pioneer Flight, Order of the Daedalians organized the events in the chapel and also supported the Hill Aerospace Museum's efforts in the Utah Hall of Fame ceremony.