STATE FUNERAL BLOG
Rhode Island General Assembly urges White House to hold state funeral for final World War II Medal of Honor recipient when they pass
- Bi-partisan initiative requests final salute to greatest generation of veterans -
In a bi-partisan effort, the Rhode Island General Assembly recently called on the Trump Administration to provide a state funeral in Washington. D.C., for the last remaining World War II Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, when he passes away.
In total, 474 Americans were awarded our nation’s highest military honor during the Second World War, but only two remain today.
The nationwide, bi-partisan initiative is led by the nonprofit State Funeral for World War II Veterans Chairman Lee William (Bill) McNutt and State Chairperson Matthew Elias.
"The approximate 400,000 remaining veterans of the Second World War will benefit from a State Funeral in Washington D.C. for the final Congressional Medal of Honor recipient from World War II,” said Elias. “This will be a final salute to the greatest gen-eration, and we’re grateful for the Rhode Island General Assembly's support. 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 Presi-dent of the United States to designate a State Funeral for the last Congressional 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 enact a State Funeral and does not require ap-proval from the U.S. Congress. A State Funeral is a seven to 10-day national event and consists of ceremonies within the state where the honoree was in residence, with-in Washington, D.C., and in the state (or at Arlington National Cemetery) where the au-thorized 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 Congres-sional Medal of Honor when he died in 2014. He received the recognition for his ef-forts at The Battle for Normandy in June 1944.
“We are blessed to have Matthew as our powerful State Chairman in Rhode Island,” said McNutt. “He gets things done and is deep in the veteran community as a retired Navy Officer and U.S. Naval Academy alumn.”
Two World War II Congressional Medal of Honor recipients remain with us: Hershel “Woody” Williams of West Virginia and Charles Coolidge of Tennessee. Both are more than 90 years of age.
Rhode Island is one of six states to call for a state funeral for the World War II resolu-tion.
Montana Governor Proclaims Support for State Funeral for World War II Petition
Military Order of Purple Heart Endorses State Funeral for World War II Petition
Woody Williams in Corsicana and Ennis, Texas
With State Funeral for World War II Veterans Board Chair Bill McNutt and daughter Rabel McNutt
Read 12-year-old Rabel's letter to Ivanka Kushner!
Sign the petition - #4Woody!
FOX 8 (New Orleans) coverage of the George Marshall Award Ceremony!
Remarks at the George Marshall Award Ceremony Sept. 16 Honoring Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.)
Welcome! I am Bill McNutt the Co-Founder, along with a 10-year old girl in Texas, Rabel McNutt, of a nonprofit Veterans Organization, called State Funeral for World War II Veterans. We launched on Labor Day, 2017.
Here is our Mission Statement. “To convince the President of the United States to designate a State Funeral for the Final Medal of Honor recipient from the Second World War. Only three remain alive today. And to provide at this funeral, special recognition for all 16 million men and women who wore the uniform of our armed forces from 1941-1945.”
Yes, a final salute to the greatest generation.
I thank the National World War II Museum for their help and hospitality today. I recognize our National Board members who are here today. Adam Crepelle, Scott Mexic, Alex Muse, Morris Kahn and one who could not be here today, Greg Hamer from Morgan City, Louisiana.
Please welcome Rabbi Mendel Rivkin from Shabbat Shalom here in New Orleans.
Earlier this week I was invited by my friend Morris Kahn to give this invocation. He is a National Board member of State Funeral for World War II Veterans. Under the principled leadership of Bill McNutt, you are lobbying for the United States to hold a state funeral for the last Medal of Freedom recipient from among the WWII veterans.
I figured that since it was the month of Elul, I would include some references to Rosh Hashanah and bring a Shofar along to sound at the ceremony. There happened to be several Jewish people in the room today, including one of the WWII veterans being honored on stage. A U.S. Navy Captain.
Honorable Congressman, Honored Veterans, Honored assembly, Ladies and gentlemen.
“Proclaim liberty throughout the land for all of its inhabitants.” This verse from Leviticus 25 was chosen to be inscribed on the Liberty Bell. Liberty. Freedom. It is under the banner of these ideas that the valiant members of our armed forces have fought for centuries. In the 20th Century, 16,000,000 fought and hundreds of thousands of our brave men and women gave their lives to defend freedom against totalitarianism, the great generation of WWII.
In two weeks from today the Jewish people will be observing Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and sound the Shofar-ram’s horn. The motifs of Rosh Hashanah include a day of renewal, a day of judgment, a day of Divine Coronation, and also a day of remembrance. We ask that the Al-mighty remember us in mercy.
Just as we ask of the All-Mighty to remember, we too must be diligent in keeping sacred and strong, the memories of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our United States of America. We must never forget those who died so that we could live as free people in this glorious land. We must honor the lives of those who served as the guardians of liberty for each and every one of us.
We pray for the safety of the members of the armed forces, and we pray for the souls of those who lost their lives in the service. May their souls be bound in the bond of life with All-mighty God. To paraphrase the words of Jonathan to David in the book of Samuel, “Go in peace! May the Lord be between us and you forever.”
I will now sound the Shofar as a clarion call to remember and to usher in a sweet new year for all. May God bless this assembly. May God bless our armed forces. May God bless the United States of America.” The Shofar is sounded.
Today’s award is named for a unique American, George Marshall, who was the head of the American Military in World War II. He was the boss of Dwight Eisenhower in Europe and Douglas MacArthur in the Pacific.
His family immigrated to Virginia in the 17th Century. I agree with former Vice Presidential nominee and Congressman Jack Kemp. He often said, “The United States is a land of immigrants, and some of the best ones have come recently. “An example would be the CEO of this museum, Stephen Watson, who is from near Dundee, Scotland. Returning to George Marshall, we are blessed that George Marshall’s family came here over 300 years ago.
George Marshall entered the Virginia Military Institute in 1897. He ended his last year at the institute as First Captain of the Corps of Cadets. He developed a talent for presenting his case to both soldiers and civilians and had the ability to make his subordinates want to do their best.
He was beautifully prepared by experience and temperament for winning the Second World War. George Marshall served as chief of operations of the 1st Army Division in France in 1917. After World War II he served for five years as an aide to Gen. John J. Pershing (1919-24).
About every 40 to 50 years, our nation has a non-Presidential State Funeral. In 1921, President Harding held a State Funeral for the Unknown Soldier from the First World War. In 1948 when General Pershing died, he received a State Funeral from President Truman. Later Douglas MacArthur received the same designation by President Kennedy.
Marshall was sworn in as chief of staff of the U.S. Army on September 1, 1939, the day World War II began with Germany’s invasion of Poland. For the next six years, Marshall oversaw the largest organizational surge in world history. When he entered office, the U.S. forces consisted of fewer than 200,000 officers and men. Under his direction, it expanded to the point that 16 million women and men served in our armed forces.
No greater compliment can be given about his wartime abilities than the praise heaped upon him by the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who said: “George Marshall was the organizer of victory.”
At the World War II Memorial in Washington DC on the Northern Wall is a quote from George Marshall that in exemplifies his life of service, resilience, and determination. When the war was very much in doubt he said the following:
WE ARE DETERMINED THAT BEFORE THE SUN SETS ON THIS TERRIBLE STRUGGLE OUR FLAG WILL BE RECOGNIZED THROUGHOUT THE WORLD AS A SYMBOL OF FREEDOM ON THE ONE HAND AND OF OVERWHELMING FORCE ON THE OTHER.
Thank God George Marshall lived. Thank God he was right.
Congressman Steve Scalise is the recipient of our young organization’s foremost award named after a Five Star General of the Army. These two men have much in common. Both have displayed physical courage, literally under fire. In World War I Marshall received the Silver Star. Congressman Scalise survived a mass assignation.
Both men are products of the South. Steve from Louisiana, George from Virginia. They both played high school football and baseball growing up.
Both treasured their friendships and relationships with people of both political parties and people of all races and religions. These two men climbed the ladder. Marshall in the military and Steve from Louisiana State Rep, to the State Senate, Congressman and now as the Whip in the GOP House leadership.
After World War II George Marshall, who was serving as Secretary of State and later as Secretary of Defense, had to deal with an increasingly divided world. Today, the Congressman has a tough job in an increasingly divided Washington.
Congressman, we are giving you two things today. First is something you have never seen. It is a mix jar of sand from two places America’s hold sacred, Iwo Jima and Omaha Beach. Please keep it near your phone, on your desk and use it as a constant reminder of what George Marshall accomplished in World War II
Second, is this silver eagle. May it continue to soar like your career, Sir!
PODCAST: Honoring the greatest generation
PODCAST: Great Ideas Have Humble Beginnings
LCDR Chuck Tobin, a member of The Greatest Generation
By Claire Landreneau
Lieutenant Commander Charles “Chuck” Edward Tobin Jr., when he was not training on naval base in California, visited Hollywood. There, he became close with Bing Crosby, the dedicated performer for WWII soldiers. Crosby helped the war effort by using radio to sell war bonds and providing entertainment for servicemen. He was filming a movie with fellow star, Bob Hope, when he met Chuck and invited him to spend days on set with them, go out for drinks with Hope, and have breakfast at Crosby’s house. Tobin records, "They certainly were wonderful to me."
Chuck was a Massachusetts native who moved to the Lone Star State on a track scholarship to the University of North Texas, then called “The Texas Normal College and Teacher Training Institute.” His classmates referred to him as “The Mighty Molecule,” for his stature and athletic ability. While there, Chuck unintentionally captured the heart of a Dallas girl, who later would follow him to naval base with a wedding dress! Despite the romantic gesture, Chuck did not get married in Los Angeles – he shipped off to the Front, instead.
He expressed excitement in finally seeing some action (he was kept on base for a number of months) in a letter to his mother; he hoped he would reach the “more fun” Pacific, rather than Europe.
Chuck was a naval pilot. He would later tell his girls that, “I flew every plane there was in the navy.” From 1943-1945, Chuck was stationed on multiple aircraft carriers and islands, including Mbanika Island and Russel Island. His job was not only dangerous due to enemy fire; over 12,000 Navy servicemen died in aviation accidents. The naval pilots had to take off and land on the aircraft carriers, which were much shorter than regular airfields. Therefore, planes were catapulted to take off and caught by a hook in order to land on the short runway. Chuck was one of the brave pilots who repeatedly accomplished this feat.
During September and October of 1944, Chuck participated in Special Air Task Group 1, a mixed squadron which operated the Interstate TDR Assault Drones. These unmanned planes were controlled by an operator onboard a Grumman TBF Avenger. These flights were predecessors to modern drone warfare.
Another of Chuck’s missions was a mere flight over the Japanese industrial city of Hiroshima to test its distance from base and its defenses. Little did he know, he was preparing for Colonel Paul Tibbets’ mission, which would drop the first atomic bomb used in combat.
After the war, Chuck remained in the Naval Reserves. He moved to Dallas and attended Southern Methodist University, gaining his law degree. There, he met Sarah Jane Neff Guymes, whose husband, Airforce Serviceman Jimmy Guymes, had died in Europe. Chuck fell in love with the war widow. They were married in 1948, and Chuck adopted her young daughter. The couple had two more girls. His daughter, Gay Rekerdres, recalls his love for reunions with his comrades and spending time with his fellow Naval Reserves in Dallas.
Welcome Susana Rabel, Texas State Board Chair
Susana earned her bachelor of arts from Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Lynchburg, Virginia, and her juris doctor from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. While studying English, economics, business, and communications at Randolph-Macon, she was accepted into both the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society and the Delta Kappa national leadership and honor society. Susana's law school achievements include serving as assistant editor for the SMU Law Review Association. She would return to the academic setting years later as an adjunct professor at Dallas’ Richland Community College.
Susana's professional history includes tenures at the Dallas law firms of Haynes and Boone, LLP, and Rabel Law, PC. She also provided legal counsel for the national health club franchise Gold's Gym. Ms. McNutt was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 1999. Her professional outreach includes affiliations with the nonprofit financial advisement organization Dallas Social Venture Partners and the regional leadership training programs Leadership Dallas and Leadership Texas.
Manchin, Capito Introduce Resolution Requesting State Funeral for Last Surviving WWII Medal Of Honor Recipient
May 20, 2019
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), introduced a resolution requesting a state funeral for the last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient. There are only three living Medal of Honor recipients remaining from WWII, including West Virginia native and Iwo Jima veteran, Woody Williams. This state funeral would not only recognize their individual service and sacrifice, but would act as a final salute to the Greatest Generation and those who wore the uniform from 1941 to 1945.
Read the full Press Release as PDF Document: Joe-Manchin-Senate-bill-Press-Release.pdf
VFW National Convention Recognizes
State Funeral Board Members and MissionState Funeral
AUG 6, 2018 —
Kansas City, Mo., was the host city for the 119th VFW National Convention, July 21-25, 2018.
A number of distinguished guests and award recipients, as well as President Trump and a number of elected officials from Missouri and Kansas appeared during the weeklong event. In addition to an address by President Trump, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford, Command Sgt. Maj. William F. Thetford, Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen (Founder & President of Give An Hour), Maximilian Uriarte (author of Terminal Lance comic strip about the US Marine Corps life) and Andrew Lumish (the “Good Cemetarian” who restores fallen hero headstones) all received VFW national awards.
We want to especially thank Medal of Honor recipient and State Funeral National Board Member Donald “Doc” Ballard, and Missouri State Chairman and Woody Williams Award recipient Richard LaBrash, for teaming up to actively represent the State Funeral Mission at the Convention.
“Doc” Ballard was honored to stand at the podium in front of the entire assembly to personally promote the State Funeral Mission and objective to petition the President.
Before President Trump spoke, “Doc” Ballard was personally approached and embraced by 4 Star Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. This was an honor that will not be forgotten by both Ballard and LaBrash. After the President spoke, our National Board Member Donald “Doc” Ballard PERSONALLY handed a SPECIAL LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT FROM THREE MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS (our two national Board Members – Don “Doc” Ballard, James “Doc” McCloughan – plus “Woody” Williams).
We greatly appreciate the time and efforts by both “Doc” Ballard and Richard LaBrash for working the floors of the Convention with State Funeral Petitions and promoting the Mission throughout the four days of the Convention.
ONE-HUNDREDTH NATIONAL CONVENTION
THE AMERICAN LEGION
August 28 - 30, 2018
Resolution No. 41: State Funeral For The Last World War II Medal Of Honor Recipient
Submitted by: Convention Committee on National Security
WHEREAS, The time has come to prepare for a final salute to our World War II service members for which 472 Medals of Honor were awarded an only four of those recipients survive today; and
WHEREAS, The opportunity is slipping away for “A funeral not for one man, but to join the hearts and minds of 330 million Americans”; and
WHEREAS, Only three classes of citizens are entitled to a state funeral: a president-elect who dies before being sworn into office, a sitting president or former president of the United States, and any other person designated by the president; and
WHEREAS, In view of the foregoing, we the membership of The American Legion, respectfully petition the president of the United States to designate that the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient lie in state on behalf of the 16 million World War II veterans as a final tribute to their service and sacrifice to achieve world peace in troubled times; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, By The American Legion in National Convention assembled in Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 28, 29, 20, 2018, That The American Legion support a petition to the president of the United States, on behalf of more than 16 million veterans of World War II, to designate a state funeral for the last living Medal of Honor recipient – not for one man, but to join together the hearts of millions of Americans in a unifying event honoring the legacy of all World War II veterans.
Letter from Stephen Watson, President & CEO of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, LA