« PreviousContinue »
Mr. BRooks. I want to say in the Pacific theater, at Hawaii, you have a lovely cemetery there. Colonel HATTox. Yes, sir. Mr. BRooks. It is well located there too. Before you get away there, what is the pleasure—do you have any further questions on this bill? Mr. PRICE. I would like to move its adoption and that the subcommittee report it to the full committee as amended. Mr. Brooks. You like the amendment? Mr. PRICE. Yes. Mr. BRooks. Is there any objection to the amendment of the bill? (No response.) Mr. BRooks. If not, the amendment to H. R. 4381 will be adopted. Now what is the subcommittee's pleasure with reference to the amended bill? Mr. PRICE. I move its approval. Mr. BRooks. You have |. the motion. Any objection? Any objection to the bill? Mrs. St. GEORGE: I think it is unnecessary, Mr. Chairman, but I am willing to go along. Mr. BRooks. I hear no objection, so the bill is favorably reported to the full committee. Thank you very much, Colonel. Colonel HATTox. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. BRooks. Nobody else? There are no other witnesses on that bill? Mr. DUCANDER. The American Legion. You wanted to make a statement? Mr. BRooks. Oh, I did not know you came here for that, Mr. Kennedy. Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. Chairman, I had submitted a statement before when we thought at one time the bill would come up before the subcommittee, some time ago. It is a very brief statement. We favor the bill. I would like to ask that the statement be incorporated in the record in the interest of saving time at this late hour. Mr. Brooks. All right. The American Legion is on record in favor of the bill. Mr. KENNEDY. Yes. I invite your attention, Mr. Chairman, to just one thing. In my statement we are asking that this marker be provided not in a national cemetery, but only in a private cemetery. In other words, we appreciate the fact that there will be no body physically present underground, but we have had hundreds of letters, especially from mothers whose boys' bodies have not been recovered, where they go to their own particular family cemetery regardless of their religious affiliation and some neighbor's boy's body was recovered and brought back in due course and buried there. We feel that they are entitled to this slight solace and consideration. Mr. BRooks. But you would have no objection, Mr. Kennedy, would you, if we included national cemeteries? For instance, if Mr. KENNEDY. No, sir. Mr. BRooks. Where a private family is called on to pay for a headstone in a national cemetery to symbolize the grave of a deceased man who gave his life for his country—you would not object to that?
Mr. KENNEDY. No, sir. We do ask that these stones or markers be provided without cost though to the families, as contained in the bill.
Mr. BRooks. We certainly thank you, sir, and if you have a fuller statement which you wish to place in the record, we would be glad to have it.
Mr. KENNEDY. Well, Mr. Ducander already has the statement, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BRooks. There is no objection to the statement coming in the record before the vote on the bill.
Mr. KENNEDY. All right.
(Statement of Mr. Kennedy is as follows:)
STATEMENT OF MILEs D. KENNEDY, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL LEGISLATIve CoMMission, THE AMERICAN LEGION
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, my name is Miles D. Kennedy; I am the director of the national legislative commission of the American Legion. Our office is at 1608 K Street NW, Washington, D. C. At the outset, Mr. Chairman, I wish to thank you for permitting me to submit this statement before the committee in support of H. R. 4381, a bill to authorize the Secretary of the Army to furnish appropriate Government headstones or memorial markers for erection in private or public cemeteries (other than in national cemeteries) to commemorate certain deceased members of the Armed Forces, whose remains have not been recovered, or have been buried at sea. Under the provisions of current statutes the Federal Government is authorized to and does provide Government headstones or markers for graves of members of the Armed Forces dying in the service or after honorable discharge therefrom. In addition, the Government is also authorized to and does bring home the bodies of servicemen who died overseas, for burial within the United States, and in this connection necessarily does incur—and quite properly so—the expense of transportation of the remains; the cost of the casket; the cost of the box; the transportation and subsistence expense involved in furnishing an escort to the place designated by the next of kin for burial; a flag and certain other necessary and incidental expenses. All of these expenses are legally incurred when a body is brought home for burial. However, where a serviceman is killed in action overseas and his body is not recovered none of the above-mentioned expenses are incurred. Enclosed is a copy of Resolution No. 364 adopted at the 1957 national convention of the American Legion urging the Federal Government to provide Government headstones or memorial grave markers for those missing in action and whose bodies were never recovered, and where burial is to be in a cemetery chosen by the next of kin, but not in a Government national cemetery. We well appreciate that the immediate family and next of kin of the deceased serviceman whose body was never recovered cannot have the full solace that goes with the knowledge the decedent's body is actually buried in a definite place, nevertheless we respectfully submit that the families of those missing in action and whose bodies were never recovered are morally and ethically entitled to what little peace of mind and comfort they can get from having a headstone or duly authorized marker erected in memory of their loved one in a cemetery of their choice. Representatives of the American Legion have received hundreds of requests for such headstones or markers and our organization has been trying for several years to have legislation of the type contained in H. R. 4381 enacted. We submit that such requests are fair and reasonable, especially when consideration is given to the reasonably small expense that will be involved, as compared to those instances where a body is recovered and returned to the family for burial. This statement is made with all due reverence and respect to those in the latter category. Wherefore, in view of the foregoing the American Legion respectfully requests the House Armed Services Committee to promptly approve H. R. 4381 or any other bill that will grant the same or similar relief.
1957 NATIONAL CoNv ENTION of the AMERICAN LEGIon, ATLANTIc City, N.J., SEPTEMBER 16–19, 1957
Resolution No. 364
Committee: Credentials and internal organization.
Subject: Government provide memorial grave markers for those missing in action.
Whereas upon application by the next of kin the remains of veterans may be returned to the family cemeteries, and headstones erected at the expense of a grateful Government; and Whereas the unidentified who gave their lives in the armed services of their country are remembered by the monument to the Unknown Soldier; and Whereas those who have been declared missing in action and deceased are unremembered by Government memorials; and Whereas the next of kin in many cases have requested grave markers: therefore, be it Resolved by the American Legion in convention assembled in Atlantic City, N.J., September 16, 17, 18, 19, 1957, that the American Legion request the Congress of the American people to respond to the requests of the next of kin by providing, at Government expense, memorial grave markers of the type and quality now provided by the Government for erection in the cemetery chosen by the next of kin. Approved.
Mr. BRooks. Thank you very much, Mr. Kennedy. We appreciate your coming.
Now, are there any other witnesses on the bill?
Mr. DUCANDER. Not on that bill.
Mr. BRooks. Now, H. R. — which is the next one?
Mr. DUCANDER. 8775.
Mr. BRooks. That bill is by myself to amend section 709, title 32, of the United States Code.
(H. R. 8775 is as follows:)
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That section 709 of title 32, United States Code, is amended as follows: (a) Strike out the last sentence of subsection (c). (b) Change subsection (d) to read as follows: “(d) Under regulations to be prescribed by the Secretary concerned personnel of the National Guard may be employed as caretakers in a civilian capacity without regard to military grade.”. Mr. DUCANDER. Colonel Blatt, of the National Guard Bureau. General Strauss, are you going to testify on this bill, too? General Strauss. We will endorse what Colonel Blatt says. Mr. DUCANDER. Did you give me a statement, Colonel Blatt? Colonel BLATT. Yes, sir. Mr. BRooks. You gentlemen, those that are going to testify, if you will come up here and have a seat it can speed up a little bit. Now, Lt. Col. William M. Blatt, legal adviser for the National Guard Bureau. If you have a short statement we will be glad to have it. Colonel BLATT. I do, Mr. Chairman. Copies have been submitted to committee counsel. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, the Department of the Army, on behalf of the Department of Defense, recommends adoption of H. R. S775, 85th Congress, 2d session.
If enacted, this legislation would remove the limitation imposed by section 709 of title 32, United States Code, in the number and military grade of civilian employees (caretakers) that may be employed for maintenance and storage pools of the National Guard. Under section 709 of title 32, United States Code, not more than 15 caretakers may be employed at any one maintenance or storage pool, nor may any officer above the grade of captain be employed b the National Guard in a civilian capacity. Neither of these prohibitions have had a practical effect since 1947, for in the Military Establishment Appropriation Act for fiscal year 1947 (60 Stat. 556), and appropriation acts in subsequent years, language has been inserted permitting employment without regard to these two limitations. Civilian employees required at a flying base, which is regarded as a “pool” will number from 120 to 160, depending on the number of squadrons supported at the base. Combined field maintenance shops have been found in most cases to be the most economical in servicin the vast amounts of vehicles in the hands of the National Guard. From 40 to 250 Army National Guard civilian employees may be employed at such shops, and there is at least one such shop in every State. The limitation on numbers imposed by section 709 of title 32, United States Code, are therefore unrealistic, now and in the foreseeable future. Similarly, permitting the National Guard to employ only one officer below the grade of major in a civilian capacity and prohibiting the employment of all other officers in higher grades is unsound. A number of civilian jobs are in the higher grades of GS-11 to GS-14, the duties of which would, in the military service, be discharged by officers of field grade. The individual possessing the requisite qualifications will oftentimes be found to have advanced in military grade accordingly. N . Guard regulations require membership in National Guard units as a condition to civilian employment, thereby assuring availability in case of mobilization. It is a practical impossibility to fill these high-level civilian positions from individuals occupying the lower military grades. As a practical matter, such a practice, if feasible, would disrupt the organization upon mobilization since the civilian incumbent would be required to perform the duties of his military occupation, different from his prior civilian employment, and field-grade officers would be required to perform jobs they had not been permitted to fill as civilians. Accordingly, section 709 of title 32, United States Code, if applied, would joi. the civilian ..". of the best qualified individuals obtainable, and prevent field-grade officers from obtaining the best possible experience appropriate to their military assignments. In addition, since the demonstrated weaknesses of present section 709 are permanent rather than temporary in nature, it appears desirable to amend the basic law rather than suspend the provisions on a year-by-year basis in appropriation acts. The practice of enacting legislation in appropriation acts is undesirable since the needed relief may be lost on a “point of order” motion. For the foregoing reasons the Department of the Army, on behalf of the Department of Defense, is strongly in favor of the purposes of the proposed legislation. However, if section 709 (d) of . 32 is amended as provided in H. R. 8775 there may be some question raised concerning the interpretation of that subsection unless subsection (b) is amended also. Since both subsections deal with the same subject matter, it is recommended that they be combined. A substitute draft bill accomplishing this purpose has been submitted and the Department recommends its enactment. The enactment of this legislation will cause no apparent increase in the budgetary requirements for the Department of Defense. The Bureau of the Budget has advised that there is no objection to the submission of the . report recommending enactment of this legislation. Mr. BRooks. You represent the Defense Department here? Colonel BLATT. I do. Mr. BRooks. So there is no objection from the Department of the Army. They recommend it? Colonel BLATT. They do, sir. Mr. BRooks. The Department of Defense recommends it, and the Bureau of the Budget recommends it? Colonel BLATT. That is correct, sir. Mr. BRooks. It will cost no additional money? Colonel BLATT. That is correct. Mr. BRooks. Because, as I understand from your statement, the appropriation bills carry appropriations for this particular purpose and each year we suspend the operations of section 709 of title 32 in order to make the appropriations? Colonel BLATT. Exactly so, sir. Mr. BRooks. And this will really close the door after the horse has left the barn. This will make legal the action, permanently legal the action we have already taken? Colonel BLATT. Yes, sir. Mr. BRooks. Any questions? Mr. DucANDER. Mr. Chairman. Mr. B Rooks. Mr. Ducander. Mr. DUCANDER. Colonel, can you tell us why—first, when was section 709 of title 32 enacted? Colonel BLATT. It was originally enacted as section 90 of the National Defense Act of 1916, June 3, 1916. Mr. DUCANDER. And why were caretakers limited to 15 for a pool? Colonel BLATT. I don't know exactly, Mr. Ducander, excepting thinking back on the type of equipment which was issued to the National Guard at that time. Mr. DUCANDER. In the first place, you didn't have the Air Guard then, did you? Colonel BLATT. That is correct, nor did we have motor vehicles in large quantity. Mr. DU CAND EP. I see. Colonel BLATT. Mostly McClelland saddles and horses. Mr. DUCANDEP. Now, what is the reason for your recommended amendment? Colonel BLATT. In order that it will not be necessary to suspend what would otherwise be a statutory prohibition. So long as 709 in its present form stands, it is necessary to provide in each appropriation act for the suspension of that prohibition—