March 10, 2010
Lakewood, CO – Today, Congressman Ed Perlmutter released the following remarks as prepared for the welcome home celebration for 10 Colorado WWII Veterans who returned from a historic trip to Iwo Jima , where they fought 65 years ago. Congressman Perlmutter, family members and members of the United States Marine Corps were on hand at Denver International Airport yesterday to welcome home these courageous men. The trip was lead by the Arvada-based The Greatest Generations Foundation. Perlmutter’s office helped complete the final leg to Iwo Jima after their original charter flight was cancelled.
“Thank you, Steffan, for that introduction, and for all you have done with this group on this trip and over the last four years.
And thank you also for the play-by-play updates as you all were taking off to go to Iwo Jima from Kadena Air Force Base!
I also want to thank Timothy Davis from the Greatest Generation Foundation for organizing this trip for these men and working to preserve their histories so we and future generations never forget the sacrifices they made for us and our nation.
Mostly I want to thank these 10 men who are with us today for their courage and selfless service to our country, and their determination in returning to this historic battle site.
Their return to Iwo Jima was truly meant to be, and was nothing short of a miracle.
They just missed being in a 7.0 earthquake in Okinawa, they were under tsunami warnings after the quake in . My understanding is there were a couple of health-related problems early on, and then on top of it all, their originally-scheduled charter flight to Iwo Jima from Okinawa was pulled.
I became involved in trying to help complete this last leg of their journey to Iwo Jima after their original charter flight fell through.
Timothy contacted my office and we made phone calls to the Marines, the Dept. of Defense and the White House for 4-5 days before they were scheduled to go to Iwo Jima . We kept running into roadblocks – legal issues, mechanical issues with different planes, no planes were in the area… at every corner there was a new knot to cut through.
But I was determined to see this through and leave no stone unturned.
On Tuesday, March 2, I made a last-ditch effort by phoning the Japanese Ambassador and the chief legal counsel for the Marine Corps – Bob Hogue. Between the three of us, we figured out a way to get these men to Iwo Jima and at about 4:45 (Our time – the vets were 16 hours ahead of us) on March 2 – I called my office and said: “there is a God – get a pen and take down these instructions NOW. Get them to Tim Davis – NOW. There is a plane, gassed and ready to take these guys to Iwo Jima – NOW.
I can’t express to you how proud I am of these men, of my country, and the determination of all those who helped these men make this journey.
I told my staff – and the White House – that we brought 12 men home from the moon with Apollo 13, we were gonna get these men to Iwo Jima. “No” was not an option.
And, that’s really the lasting lesson these men and all of those who serve in our military show us each and every day.
We are a great nation, made up of courageous people willing to sacrifice for our country. And we can do anything if we set our minds to it and find ways to cut through the bureaucracy.
The stories these veterans have to tell teach us important lessons about the resilience of our people, communities and nation.
I’m proud I was able to help the gears of government work for these brave men and help them complete their journey.
I cannot express my admiration, respect and thanks enough to these men, and the Marine Corps for their selfless service to our country – then and now.”