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Home Sections Obituary-Memorial Park Ex-U.S. Senator Stevens, a Friend of Filipino Veterans, Dies in Crash
Ex-U.S. Senator Stevens, a Friend of Filipino Veterans, Dies in Crash PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Obituary-Memorial Park
Thursday, 12 August 2010 11:13

 

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(Journal Group Link International)

 

Ex-U.S. Senator Stevens, a Friend of Filipino Veterans, Dies in Airplane Crash in Alaska

 

C HICAGO (jGLi) – Former Sen. Theodore F. Stevens of Alaska, a known proponent of the Filipino Veterans' Equity Bill, was mourned by the Filipino-American community and fellow U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (Dem.-HI), after he died in a plane crash in his home state in Alaska last Monday night. He was 86.

 

National Chair Greg Macabenta of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations said in a statement, “We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, who died in a plane crash Monday night. Our sympathies are with his family and loved ones.

 

“We remember the Senator as one of the strongest advocates for Filipino World War II veterans’ equity. During senate debates in 2008, after S. 1315 – the Veterans Benefits Enhancement Act – was introduced by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Senator Stevens kept the faith with his comrades and staunchly defended the bill that would have provided special pensions to Filipino veterans.”

 

NaFFAA spokesman Jon Meligrito quoted Senator Stevens as saying in 2008, “I do not get excited too many times on this floor, but this bill excites me.” At the time, the senator was one of five World War II veterans serving in the Senate. The Senate’s other World War II veterans are Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye, Democrats of Hawaii; Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.; and John Warner, R-Va.

 

VALIANTLY FOUGHT FOR THE BILL

 

S enator Stevens valiantly fought back against opponents of the bill, asserting that the measure was a way to keep promises made to Filipino veterans and that it was a right they had available to them. “We are talking about honor, the honor of the United States,” the senator said, recalling the contributions of Filipino troops that fought under the American flag, side by side with American soldiers. “This is a wrong that has to be rectified.”

 

Mr. Stevens joined Senator Inouye on a trip to the Philippines in 2008 to observe the turnover of computers provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development to the Zamboanga State College of Manila Science and Technology-Laboratory School High School Department in Zamboanga City. They were also hosted to a reception by then U.S. Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney in the U.S. Embassy in Manila to meet with Filipino veterans, Filipino military officers, senior government official and local businessmen.

 

Sen. Daniel A. Akaka (Dem.-HI), Steven’s former colleague in the U.S. Senate, said, “Our country has lost a great American. Ted Stevens cared deeply for the people of Alaska and the United States.  He dedicated his career to the security and well being of the country. 

 

Mr. Akaka, a former World War II veteran like Ted Stevens, added, “He brought strength and passion to the Senate for many decades. We worked together on issues facing our home states. He was a friend of Hawaii and he understood the United States' responsibility to its indigenous people. 

 

A DEAR FRIEND

 

“He was a dear friend.  We were ohana (family). 

 

“Millie and I send our warm aloha and deepest condolences to Catherine and all of Ted's family. 

 

“Ted, mahalo nui loa (thank you very much) for so many years of dedication and friendship.  You will be missed. “

 

"A decorated World War II veteran, Sen. Ted Stevens devoted his career to serving the people of Alaska and fighting for our men and women in uniform," President Obama said in a statement Tuesday. "Michelle and I extend our condolences to the entire Stevens family and to the families of those who perished alongside Sen. Stevens in this terrible accident."

 

Former President George H. W. Bush remembered Ted Stevens as a "respected friend" who "loved the Senate."

 

"Ted Stevens loved the Senate; he loved Alaska; and he loved his family -- and he will be dearly missed," Mr. Bush said in a statement.

 

ALASKAN OF THE CENTURY

 

F ormer Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin also offered her condolences, writing on Facebook Tuesday, "In our land of towering mountains and larger-than-life characters, none were larger than the man who in 2000 was voted Alaskan of the Century. This decorated World War II pilot was a warrior and a true champion of Alaska."

 

One of the survivors in the plane crash was former NASA chief Sean O'Keefe, who is currently in critical condition. His son, who was also on the plane, survived too. The two other survivors were William "Willy" Phillips Jr., 13, and lobbyist and former Stevens aide Jim Morhard of Alexandria, Virginia, according to the ABC News.

 

In addition to Ted Stevens, the other four who died in the crash were the pilot, Theron "Terry" Smith, 62, of Eagle River, Alaska; William "Bill" Phillips Sr.; Dana Tindall, 48, of Anchorage, Alaska; and her 16-year-old daughter, Corey Tindall, also of Anchorage, the Alaska Department of Public Safety said.

 

Phillips was a Washington lobbyist and Stevens' former chief of staff. Dana Tindall was a senior vice president for the Alaska telecommunications company GCI.

 

Across the northernmost state, flags are flying half-mast in honor of Stevens, the man who arguably helped shape the state more than anyone in its history.

 

Friends of Stevens said he was traveling Monday to the GCI-owned Agulowak Lodge near Lake Aleknagik, the Anchorage Daily News reported Tuesday.

 

Mr. Stevens was a Republican senator from the state from 1968 to 2009, and later was found guilty of failing to report gifts allegedly received when he was a senator.

 

United States Attorney General Eric Holder later decided to drop all charges against Stevens, vacating his conviction. Mr. Holder had cited serious prosecutorial misconduct during the trial. But the charges cost Mr. Stevens his career, making him the first longest serving senator to not win back his seat. # # #

 

Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at:  (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

 



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Last Updated on Thursday, 12 August 2010 11:29
 

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