CHAIRMAN CRAIG COMMENTS ON DEATHS OF TWO MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS<BR> <i>One is from Senator Craig's home state of Idaho</br></i>

March 24, 2006

Media Contact: Jeff Schrade (202) 224-9093


(Washington, DC) From his home near Boise, Idaho, U.S. Senator Larry Craig extended his condolences to the wife and children of Medal of Honor recipient David Bleak, who passed away Thursday in Arco, Idaho.  He was 74.


?There are just a handful of people who have ever earned the Medal of Honor.  David Bleak was one of those heroes and his passing leaves a big hole in the fabric of our nation,? said Craig, who serves as Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs.


His death came on the same day that another Medal of Honor recipient passed away.  Desmond Doss, who lived in Georgia, is the only World War II noncombatant to receive the Medal of Honor.  His citation states that during the Pacific island battle on Okinawa, he carried 75 wounded soldiers through enemy fire, and lowered them to safety down a 400-foot cliff.  He was 87 at the time of his death.?To lose two heroes on the same day makes you wonder what the need is in heaven,? Craig said. 


There are now just 114 living recipients of the award.


David Bleak was born in Idaho Falls on February 27, 1932, and joined the Army in nearby Shelley, Idaho.  On June 14, 1952, he found himself in heavy combat in Korea.  His citation states:


?He volunteered to accompany a reconnaissance patrol committed to engage the enemy and capture a prisoner for interrogation. Forging up the rugged slope of the key terrain, the group was subjected to intense automatic weapons and small arms fire and suffered several casualties. After administering to the wounded, he continued to advance with the patrol.


?Nearing the military crest of the hill, while attempting to cross the fire-swept area to attend the wounded, he came under hostile fire from a small group of the enemy concealed in a trench. Entering the trench he closed with the enemy, killed 2 with bare hands and a third with his trench knife. Moving from the emplacement, he saw a concussion grenade fall in front of a companion and, quickly shifting his position, shielded the man from the impact of the blast.


?Later, while ministering to the wounded, he was struck by a hostile bullet but, despite the wound, he undertook to evacuate a wounded comrade. As he moved down the hill with his heavy burden, he was attacked by 2 enemy soldiers with fixed bayonets. Closing with the aggressors, he grabbed them and smacked their heads together, then carried his helpless comrade down the hill to safety. Sgt. Bleak's dauntless courage and intrepid actions reflect utmost credit upon himself and are in keeping with the honored traditions of the military service.?


David Bleak was presented the Medal of Honor by President Dwight Eisenhower on October 27, 1953. 


Bleak's death and that of Desmond Doss come just as the nation prepares to honor those awarded the Medal of Honor.  Tomorrow, Saturday, March 25th, is National Medal of Honor Day.  The date of March 25th was chosen because on March 25, 1863, the first Medals of Honor were presented to six members of Union Army.