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Amazing Idahoans

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

When the U.S. Senate is out of session for the August state work period, I have the opportunity to travel the state and meet with more Idahoans.  While I meet with Idahoans in Washington, DC, and throughout the state during other times of the year, the nearly full month of traveling the state, hearing directly from Idahoans about pressing concerns is refreshing and valuable as I work to represent your interests in the U.S. Senate.  One of the most rewarding aspects of this job is the amazing Idahoans I cross paths with and learn about throughout this state.  To say that Idaho is full of remarkable people who do amazing things is an understatement.

One of those amazing Idahoans is Quentin Murdock, a World War II Veteran, who I had the opportunity to honor in August through presenting him with a 2014 Spirit of Freedom Award.  Since 2002, I have been presenting these awardsto honor outstanding Idaho veterans and volunteers who assist them.  Every year my staff and I give out these awards, we find new experiences and new people. 

Quentin, of Pingree, was honored for his exemplary service to our nation.  Quentin wrote a memoir of his World War II combat experiences.  His gripping account of near misses and loss of friends and fellow soldiers paints a clear picture of what he endured to protect our nation and liberate our allies.  Our freedoms come with a lasting toll.  Throughout both the North Africa and Sicily Campaigns of World War II, he served as a rifle platoon leader and was promoted to First Lieutenant.  He was taken prisoner for ten days, was rescued from a sunken boat and became a seasoned combat soldier.  He went on to serve in the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings at Omaha Beach.  Quentin earned a number of medals for his outstanding service, including a Silver Star for gallantry in action and two Bronze Stars.  After his return home, he became an important part of the community.  He worked as an Agriculture Extension Service agent, married and farmed.  Quentin has given greatly for our nation. 

I also had the opportunity this month to honor Idahoan and Medal of Honor recipient Colonel Bernard Fisher's life through a Congressional Record Statement.  Colonel Fisher, of Kuna, earned the Medal of Honor for putting his life on the line to rescue a fellow injured pilot who crashed landed in an enemy-controlled area during the Vietnam War.  According to information from the U.S. Air Force, he landed his airplane, pulled the pilot aboard and escaped despite the airplane he piloted being hit with multiple rounds.  He went on to have a distinguished military career and retired in Kuna as an Air Force Colonel.  Colonel Fisher passed away in August, and he leaves behind a legacy of heroic and steady service. 

These are just two of the many great Idahoans who have made Idaho home.  There are many more throughout our communities.  The lessons I learn from these veterans and other Idahoans shape my policymaking in Washington, DC.     

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Senator Crapo presented the Spirit of Freedom Award to World War II veteran and author Quentin Murdock during a veterans' recognition ceremony at the Idaho State Veterans Home in Pocatello on August 27, 2014.