Veterans' Committee Chairman praises Bob Dole wounded 60 years ago today

May 14, 2005

Contact: Jeff Schrade 202-224-9093

(Washington, DC) Sen. Larry Craig, chairman of the U.S. Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, today took time out today to pay tribute to his friend and former colleague, Senator Bob Dole, who was severely wounded in Italy 60 years ago today.

"As chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, and on behalf of American Veterans everywhere, I pay tribute today to my friend and former colleague, a true war hero and one of this nation's greatest veterans, Senator Bob Dole - the great Kansas Republican," Craig said.  ?Without Bob Dole's help, I wouldn't have become a member of the Veterans' Affairs committee I now chair.  I told him I wanted to serve on the committee, and as Majority Leader, he made it happen.?

"Sixty years ago this week, on April 14, 1945, Sen. Dole was a strapping young man and an Army second lieutenant.  While in northern Italy, as he attempted to drag one of his men away from the fire being laid down by Nazi troops, he was cut down by enemy fire from either German shrapnel or machine-gun fire.  Those hot metal fragments ripped apart his shoulder, broke his collarbone and right arm, smashed down into his vertebrae and damaged his spinal cord.  He couldn't move his arms or legs, and it was nearly a year before he learned how to feed himself."

The Veterans' Committee Chairman noted that as Dole recuperated in Battlecreek, Michigan, he spent time with two other outstanding young men who would join him later in the U.S. Senate - future Sen. Phil Hart (D-Michigan) and Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii).

"On April 19, 1951 - 54 years ago - General Douglas MacCarthur gave his famous speech before Congress, declaring, 'And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty.'  But unlike an old soldier who just fades away, Bob Dole has not faded away, and we're all better because of him," Craig said.

In January 1997, then President Clinton presented Sen. Dole with the Presidential Medal of Freedom - the highest civilian award in Government.   The former senator also been awarded the American Legion's prestigious Distinguished Service Medal and the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Teddy Roosevelt Award.  He continues to serve as Chairman of the Board of The Dole Foundation, which he established in 1983 to advance educational and workforce opportunities for the disabled.  Two years ago the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics was established at the University of Kansas.

"On top of that, Sen. Bob Dole led the fund-raising campaign for the World War II memorial which now adorns the National Mall here in Washington, D.C.," Craig said.  "He is a remarkable man and I'm glad that 60 years ago, providence allowed him to survive his injuries."