• Mr. Speaker, 100 years ago, the United States came--not for the last time--to the free world's aid, as Europe descended into a bloody war that would ultimately end the Age of Empires. Much has been written about the First World War, its impact on subsequent history, and the future trajectory of the Western world. But what are often forgotten are the stories and sacrifices of brave individuals.
  • According to Blaine Pardoe's ``Terror of the Autumn Skies,'' the average life expectancy of a new United States WWI pilot was just 19 days. These four men defied the odds and boldly fought their way through the war. These men deserve special tribute. They are all young Americans who came to the aid of our allies and helped make the world more secure and prosperous.
  • All four were recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor, our Nation's highest military honor, and yet they are not household names. That is unfortunate.
  • We must remember our warriors from 100 years ago because the greatest tragedy of war is to be forgotten.First Lieutenant Frank Luke, Jr.
  • Known as the ``Arizona Balloon Buster,'' Lieutenant Luke was born into a family of nine siblings in Phoenix, growing up a keen sportsman and bare-knuckle boxer--a pursuit that would help prepare him for the fight to come. Lt. Luke enlisted in the Aviation Section of the U.S. Signal Corps in 1917 and received his training in the Great State of Texas before being deployed to the Western Front. Perhaps reflecting his childhood sports prowess, Lt. Luke went on to become one of an elite number of ``fighter aces,'' and in September 1918, he successfully completed a record personal campaign against German observation balloons and aircraft, earning him his nickname. He died in combat on 29 September 1918. He was 21.Captain Edward V. Rickenbacker
  • Eddie Rickenbacker always had a knack for driving. He competed in the Indianapolis 500 four times as a racecar driver before becoming America's most successful WWI fighter ace. Born in Ohio to Swiss-German parents, Captain Rickenbacker had a personal connection to the turmoil engulfing Europe and even tried to join the Allied cause before the United States entered the war. With 26 aerial victories to his name, Captain Rickenbacker is widely considered one of the most accomplished military aviators of his generation. He was also one of the hardest-working, clocking up a total of 300 combat hours. Rickenbacker was lucky enough to return home after the war and went on to become an airline executive and advisor to the U.S. Air Force effort in WWII. He died in Columbus in 1973 aged 82.Chief Machinist's Mate Francis E. Ormsbee, Jr.
  • Born and raised in Rhode Island, Frank Ormsbee, Jr., was not even yet a pilot when he conducted the brave rescue attempt that would earn him a Congressional Medal of Honor. After being motivated as a patriot to enlist in the Navy in 1917, the following year, as an aircrew member stationed at Pensacola, Florida, Ormsbee witnessed a plane go into a tailspin and crash less than a mile out from his position. The young Navy recruit jumped overboard and swam to the wreck, partially extricating the gunner and making a number of attempts to save his life. While the rescue was unsuccessful, Ormsbee's heroism was extraordinary. He died in a plane crash two decades later at the age of 44.Ensign Charles Hazeltine Hammann
  • In addition to his congressional medal, Charles Hammann's service has been memorialized by two Naval ships named in his honor. Originally from Baltimore, Hammann joined the Naval Reserve in 1917. Less than 12 months later, the young naval aviator found himself flying a Macchi M.5 seaplane off the Austro-Hungarian coast when his colleague and compatriot Ens. George M. Ludlow was shot down. Despite his aircraft being deemed suitable for one person, Ensign Hammann dove to the water and pulled his fellow American onboard, saving his life amid danger of enemy fire from Austrian planes. He was killed on duty in Virginia on 14 June 1919. He was 27.
  • All four of these brave Americans, two of them barely more than boys, exemplify the very best in our fine tradition of military service. As the world reflects on the Great War on the occasion of its centenary, it is my hope that we remember the names and stories of these heroic individuals who risked or, indeed, gave their lives in service of this Nation.
  • The boys of the Great War were the fathers of America's Greatest Generation. Their efforts cannot and will not be forgotten.
  • And that's just the way it is.