House Unanimously Passes Kelly Bill to Honor Vietnam War Hero from Butler

Jul 18, 2017 Issues: Veterans

Bill would rename VA community living center in Butler Twp.

after Sgt. Joseph George Kusick, 1945-1967


WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) delivered remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives yesterday evening in support of his bill (H.R. 2210) to designate the community living center of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Butler Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania, as the "Sergeant Joseph George Kusick VA Community Living Center". The legislation – co-sponsored by all 18 members of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation – was passed by the House with unanimous support (401-0) following Rep. Kelly’s address.

Excerpt of Rep. Kelly's floor dedication (as prepared for delivery): 

Joseph George Kusick of Bruin, Pennsylvania, was assigned to the U.S. Army’s Command and Control Detachment of the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) during the Vietnam War. On November 8th, 1967, Sergeant Kusick distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions while serving as the radio operator of a Special Forces reconnaissance team on a combat mission deep in hostile territory. Sergeant Kusick, although seriously wounded during an enemy ambush, refused aid and radioed the forward air controller to advise him of the critical situation. While the team leader led a withdrawal to a landing zone, Sergeant Kusick maintained contact with the controller and requested emergency extraction for the reconnaissance team.

Sergeant Kusick realized the importance of having a radio operator on the ground to direct landings, and so he refused evacuation by the first helicopter. After the second helicopter was shot down, he continued to maintain radio contact in the midst of enemy fire and called for a hoist extraction of the men still remaining on the ground. Sergeant Kusick finally boarded the last helicopter, which was shot down by intense Viet Cong fire and crashed in flames, resulting in the death of this great American hero.

On December 22nd of the same year, Sergeant Kusick was posthumously awarded the Silver Star Medal for gallantry in action. The citation to accompany the award of the Silver Star Medal stated that his “gallantry in action, at the cost of his life, was in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.”

Passing this bill and renaming the VA community living center after Sergeant Kusick will allow us to honor his sacrifice as well as that of his fellow soldiers who survived the war and continue to live among us as our family, friends, and neighbors.

I am grateful to the American Legion, the Disabled American Veterans, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars for supporting this bill. I also thank my colleagues in the Pennsylvania delegation for their unanimous support, and I ask all of my House colleagues to join me today in passing H.R. 2210. This bill signifies our gratitude to Sergeant Kusick and to all those who have given so much, including their very lives, in defense of the United States.

Read the full text of H.R. 2210 here.

Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee:

“Sergeant Joseph George Kusick’s bravery and selflessness in battle helped saved the lives of his fellow soldiers during the Vietnam War. It is only fitting and appropriate that we honor Sergeant Kusick’s service and sacrifice by naming the Butler County VA community living center after him. I am grateful to Rep. Kelly for introducing this bill and for allowing us to honor and forever remember this American hero.”