WASHINGTON—Ahead of the anniversary of D-Day, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a retired lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard, along with her fellow female combat veteran, Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), are announcing successful passage of their bipartisan legislation to award the U.S. Army Ranger Veterans of World War II with the Congressional Gold Medal earlier this year. The bill passed the Senate unanimously.

“Whether meeting Iowa veterans who are visiting the WWII Memorial as part of an honor flight or awarding a well-deserved service medal back home, I’m often reminded of the unparalleled courage and sacrifice of the Greatest Generation. When it comes to recognizing the sacrifices and heroic actions of our brave Army Rangers, there’s no time to wait,” said Senator Ernst, the first female combat veteran elected to the Senate. “I’m so thrilled all of my Senate colleagues supported this bill. While we can never say thank you enough, awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to these Rangers is a small token of appreciation from a grateful nation.”

“U.S. Army Rangers bravely wore the uniform of this great nation and participated in some of the most important battles of World War II,” Senator Duckworth said. “The impact and influence of these elite soldiers and the sacrifices they made to protect their fellow Americans cannot be overstated. I’m glad my colleagues voted to pass this bipartisan legislation that will award these Veterans with a Congressional Gold Medal, and I look forward to it becoming law.”

One of the World War II Army Rangers who would receive a Congressional Gold Medal is Lester Cook of Des Moines, Iowa. Mr. Cook is one of the original 1st Ranger Battalion Darby Rangers and was handpicked and trained at Achnacarry, Scotland. Senator Ernst’s staff met with Mr. Cook of Des Moines to discuss what the Congressional Gold Medal means to him and his fellow Army Rangers.

Click here for a video about the bill, including an interview with Iowan Lester Cook.  

The WWII Army Ranger Congressional Gold Medal Act is supported by a number of organizations, including U.S. Army Ranger Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars, National WWII Museum (New Orleans, LA), National D-Day Memorial (Bedford, VA), National Veterans Memorial and Museum (Columbus, OH), Maryland Military Historical Society, Anzio Beachhead Museum, Ranger Museum and Exhibit (Normandy, France), War Museum Winterline Venafro, and Witness to War Foundation.

“Witness to War has dedicated our mission to preserving and promoting the stories of combat veterans, including WWII Rangers, and we’re elated that they have the opportunity to receive the Congressional Gold Medal. The men who fought in these units put their lives in harm’s way in the name of freedom. This would be such a well-deserved acknowledgment of their incredible service, and we’re humbled and honored to have known some of these great soldiers. We at Witness to War are eternally grateful for their selfless service, and look forward to seeing this bill pass in the House,” said Emily Carley, Director, Witness to War Foundation.

“On behalf of our nation’s Veterans, and especially our Rangers past, present, and future, we would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to the U.S. Army Ranger Veterans of WWII and their families on the passage of their Congressional Gold Medal. Whether in North Africa, Italy, Normandy, or the Philippines our Ranger forbearers showed peerless courage, grit, endurance, and determination. Because of their actions and exacting standards our modern day Army Rangers are the finest light infantry and raid force in the world. Our nation can never repay the debt of gratitude to these men and what they accomplished for our country,” said Lieutenant General Mike Ferriter, President and CEO of the National Veterans Memorial and Museum.

Ernst is working with Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) to move this legislation through the House of Representatives and onto the President’s desk.