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John T.
Republican SD

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  • Tribute to Loren Duke Abdalla

    by Senator John Thune

    Posted on 2014-12-12

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    THUNE. Madam President, today I wish to honor the heroic service of Loren Duke Abdalla, a member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe and the great grandson of the great Chief Running Bull. Corporal Abdalla, better known as ``Duke'', is a brave Marine who fought courageously in the Pacific Theater of World War II, earning the Purple Heart.

    Duke enlisted into the U.S. Marine Corps in October of 1943. After finishing his basic training at the age of 18, he was sent to the island of New Caledonia before being assigned to Pavuvu Island alongside the First Marine Division, 1st Regiment, 1st Battalion, A Company, 1st Platoon. Shortly after his training on Pavuvu Island, Duke's regiment was given orders to invade the Island of Peleliu on September 15, 1944.

    [[Page S6785]] His regiment worked its way toward Bloody Nose Ridge, where they became surrounded on three sides and suffered heavy casualties. Despite persistent enemy fire, receiving shrapnel wounds in both of his legs, and blasts blowing out both his ear drums, Duke fought hard through the 6-day battle. In the end, Duke was one of only 29 survivors of his battalion. He received the Purple Heart and was promoted to corporal for his heroic efforts and leadership at Peleliu.

    After recovering from his numerous injuries, Duke resumed Active Duty and rejoined his brothers in arms in the Battle of Okinawa. A Company, 1st and 3rd platoons were tasked with advancing on enemy positions, and Duke was assigned 3rd squad leader of the 1st platoon. On May 5, 1945, 2nd Squad Leader CPL John Brady was burned by a phosphorous grenade. Under heavy fire, Duke threw CPL Brady over his shoulder and carried him to safety. Duke then swiftly returned to the frontline and proceeded to engage a series of six enemy machine gun nests. Duke was the only member of his 12-person team to reach the fourth nest, and he continued moving forward and removed the last two nests by himself. His actions permitted the First Marine Division to safely advance up the ridge.

    While many Americans were honored for their courageous actions that day and throughout the campaign, Duke's heroic actions have largely gone unrecognized. I stand here today and ask that Duke's selfless and brave actions be acknowledged and not soon forgotten. Duke received an honorable discharge from the United States Marine Corps on February 28, 1947, ending a military career that undoubtedly factored into American successes in the Pacific Theater.

    Duke is most deserving of recognition for his exemplary bravery in the face of great danger and for putting the concerns of others always before his own. His selfless acts saved the lives of his colleagues and helped to secure American victory in that great war. Our Nation will always be grateful for Duke's dedicated service, and as thankful citizens, we must never take for granted the courage displayed by heroes like Corporal Loren Duke Abdalla. ____________________

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