Last Wednesday, Allen Huddleston of Bedford passed away at the age of 97. Mr. Huddleston was the last living member of the Bedford Boys. I was deeply saddened to hear of Mr. Huddleston’s passing, and our thoughts and prayers remain with his friends and family. We lost a true American hero last week, and we owe a debt of gratitude for his faithful service to our nation.
An injury kept Mr. Huddleston from landing in Normandy Beach with his brothers who served in the 116th Infantry, 29th Division. But when he rejoined Company A, which had suffered a 90 percent casualty rate, he remarked that he did not recognize anyone. As many may recall, during the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, our nation dug deeply for the cause of freedom. On that day, America sent her sons, husbands, and fathers into the unimaginable fury of hell for the sake of our country and our friends and for the sake of peace. But Bedford suffered a greater loss than most; on D-Day, Bedford lost 19 of her sons – the highest per capita loss in the nation.
Bedford is representative of towns all across the Commonwealth and all across America. These are peaceful towns where these young men were taught that greater love hath no man than that he give up his life for his friend. These young men were taught that blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God. So when these young men were called to defend their nation, they left their small towns, and they served valiantly to preserve freedom.
Their stories are hard to tell, their stories are hard to hear, but it is important that we listen to these stories and that we never forget the sacrifices of those who fought. Mr. Huddleston’s passing marks a point in time when the story of the Bedford Boys will now live on through the history books and through their friends and family. These brave men and all of our veterans who have passed away long before Mr. Huddleston have left an enduring legacy – one of freedom, sacrifice, valor, and peacemaking. It is a legacy we will never forget, and we remain forever grateful for the service of all our veterans.
Today, Bedford is home to the National D-Day Memorial, and it stands as an amazing tribute to all of those who took part in the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. This magnificent memorial represents the supreme sacrifice of not just one small town in Virginia, but the sacrifice of all of the towns and families across America, on a day on the beaches of Normandy that was critical to preserving freedom for our country and for our allies. If you have not visited this memorial, I strongly urge you and your family to do so. It is moving, it is humbling, and its lessons will remain with you long after you leave.
We will not forget the sacrifices made by Mr. Huddleston, or any of our brave men and women in uniform. I believe that it is important to honor the past and draw inspiration from it, and I will continue to be guided by these lessons of history and by the sanctity of the American spirit.
If you need any additional information or if we may be of assistance to you, please visit my website at hurt.house.gov or call my Washington office: (202) 225-4711, Charlottesville office: (434) 973-9631, Danville office: (434) 791-2596, or Farmville office: (434) 395-0120.
I met with Tyler Craddock, Stan Rush, and Jesse Rutherford of the Virginia Manufactured and Modular Housing Association.
[nice signature graphic: Robert Hurt]