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Justly honoring a national, Oregon hero

by: Submitted photo FROM THE LEGISLATURE - Rep. Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie) represents House district 31 and can be reached at 
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 </script> or at 503-986-1431

On Wednesday, March 9, I had the honor of carrying a resolution on the House floor paying tribute to one of our state and nation's heroes. I'd like to share it with you because the narrative is compelling:

Today I ask you to join me in honoring a recently passed World War II hero, Philip Chester Bellefeuille. Mr. Bellefeuille was a corporal, a World War II hero, and a truly worthy representative of America's Greatest Generation.

With World War II raging in the background, Mr. Bellefeuille reached the age of 18 in 1942 and promptly joined the United State Marine Corps. Corp. Bellefeuille was assigned to the Fighting 4th Marine Division as a forward artillery observer. This would become a job that would place the corporal in nearly constant peril, through some of the fiercest island invasions, of the Pacific Theater.

Corporal Bellefeuille made it through his first invasion, the Marshall Islands, virtually unscathed. His second landing was on Saipan, where he was severely wounded by shrapnel to his leg. Refusing to leave his unit, Corporal Bellefeuille carried the metal in his leg into the battle of the Marianas.

By his own account, none of the savagery that Corporal Bellefeuille had faced to that point would prepare him or his comrades for what they would face on Iwo Jima. As Corporal Bellefeiulle's unit neared shore, they encountered such intense fire that control of their landing craft was lost. Under Corporal Bellefeuille's cool resourcefulness and determined leadership, control of the vessel was regained and the beachhead was reached under a hail of fire.

The ensuing battle of Iwo Jima wiped out Corporal Bellefeuille's unit, including his foxhole companion. A most fortunate Marine indeed, Corporal Bellefeuille went on to attend the deactivation of his decimated unit. Fast forward nearly seven decades…Phil Bellefeuille died a week and a half ago, just a little sooner than we were able to bring this resolution to the House floor for your consideration.

At the age of 87, Phil had outlived his blood relatives. The only people at his bedside last week were the Band of Brothers, a 500-member veterans' organization from Central Oregon. Colleagues, with your concurrence, HCR 15 will be read at Phil's graveside ceremony later this week (Saturday, March 19). Please join me and the Band of Brothers in honoring one of our state's true war heroes.

The Resolution passed with unanimous support.