Honoring the USS ``Mount Hood''
February 17, 2011
Mr. NELSON of Florida. Mr. President, on August 21, 1944, laden with precious cargo for the Pacific theatre, the USS Mount Hood, the lead ship of her class for the U.S. Navy, departed Norfolk on her first mission. On board were 296 sailors and 22 officers.
The USS Mount Hood reached Manus Island, a province of Papua, New Guinea, on September 22 and commenced with dispensing ammunition and explosives to ships preparing for the Philippine offensive. On the morning of November 10, 1944, a young Naval Reserve lieutenant and 17 enlisted men climbed over the side of the USS Mount Hood and boarded boats to go ashore. After reaching the beach, they saw an enormous flash followed by two explosions, and the men were knocked to the ground. They scrambled back to the boats and headed to where the Mount Hood had been anchored, but found only debris where the ship had once been. The entire ship, and all aboard, were gone.
Over 400,000 Americans lost their lives in World War II. In the deserts of North Africa, the jungles of the Pacific islands, on the beaches in Normandy, and everywhere in between, these brave men and women sacrificed their lives to preserve the freedom and individual liberties we all enjoy. We owe them all an immense debt of gratitude for the sacrifices they made to defend our Nation. They should never be forgotten.
The only surviving officer of the USS Mount Hood, LT Lester Wallace, is now 95 years old and resides in Pensacola, FL. While we mourn those who gave their lives to the cause of freedom, we must also remember to celebrate the service and sacrifice of those who survived. I am extremely proud of the service Lieutenant Wallace rendered to our country as a Navy officer, and later as a civilian. On behalf of the people of Florida and our Nation, I thank Lieutenant Wallace--and all those who have served and continue to serve--for their sacrifice and service. Think of the unbelievable time it would take us under conventional technology--10 months to get to Mars. Then, once you got to Mars, you pretty well have to stay on the surface of Mars for 1 year, until the planets are realigned, revolving about the Sun, so Mars comes in closer to the Earth for the 10-month trip back. That is why we need new technologies. An astronaut who flew seven times, Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz, a plasma physicist from MIT, is developing a plasma rocket that will take us to Mars in 39 days. Then, with that short time flying, at 400,000 miles per hour by plasma thrust, we could stay on the surface 1 month, to return to Earth without having to stay 1 year.
These are exciting new technologies. A pilot project of that plasma rocket, with the acronym VASIMR, is being developed to fly on the space station and provide a continuous pulse that will keep the space station boosted, instead of it having, in the degrading of its orbit for conventional technology, to keep boosting it.
Not only is the sky the limit, not only is the stratosphere the limit, the heavens are the limit if we as Americans will assume this can-do posture that is so typical of the personalities of explorers and adventurers; in other words, the personalities of we, the Americans.
I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.