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Paying tribute to Gen. Seitz

As we celebrate our nation's independence this week, it is fitting we recall the brave men and women who have defended America since then.

Last week, I was honored to call the attention of the U.S. House of Representatives to one of these heroes: Lt. Gen.Richard J. Seitz.

A shortened version of the following tribute was offered on his behalf on the floor of the House and can be viewed online at www.youtube.com/CongressmanHuelskamp:

"Mr. Speaker, today I rise to pay tribute to the life of Lt. Gen. Richard J. Seitz of Junction City, Kansas, who died on June 8 at the age of 95.

"A native Kansan and Kansas State University grad, Dick went through the sixth jump school class the Army ever had -- becoming one of its first paratroopers. He was quickly promoted to be the Army's youngest battalion commander, and led his battalion throughout its historic combat operations in Europe during World War II.

"Dick ended World War II with the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and the Purple Heart, plus, besides his Parachute Wings, what he most treasured -- the Combat Infantryman's Badge. During his lifelong Army career, including nearly 37 years of active duty and later service in Vietnam, Brazil, Japan, and Iran, Dick also received numerous other decorations and awards including the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit and the French Croix de Guerre and Legion of Honor.

"Dick retired to Junction City in 1975 but remained active in his community and at Fort Riley. Among other activities, he was on the board of the Eisenhower Presidential Library, president of the Fort Riley-Central Kansas Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army, and chaired Junction City's Economic Redevelopment Study Commission.

 "Dick was also honored as an Outstanding Citizen of Kansas, received the prestigious AUSA Creighton Abrams Award, and most recently had the General Richard J. Seitz Elementary School named in his honor on the post at Fort Riley. He felt a particular affection for the faculty and students of that school whom he visited as often as he could. The best way to describe Dick is that he lived his life 'Airborne all the way!' to the very end.

"Last year, my family and I had the privilege to meet Gen. Dick Seitz when he served as the grand marshal at the Independence Day parade in Junction City.  I quickly came to understand why Gen. Seitz was admired by so many.  Not only was he revered for his extraordinary and dedicated military service, but also for the care, generosity and affection he offered others throughout his life.  

"Gen. Seitz epitomized what it means when people refer to him and his peers as 'America's Greatest Generation.' Let us never forget men and women like General Seitz, especially on Independence Day. And may God bless them all."

Congressman Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler and Hutchinson, represents the First District of Kansas in the U.S. House of Representatives.