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Yarmuth Honors Robley Rex

(Washington, DC) Below are the remarks of Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) for the Congressional Record in honor of Robley Rex, the World War I era veteran who passed away yesterday in Louisville.

Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor Robley Rex, an American Hero from my home town of Louisville, Kentucky, who peacefully passed away just days away from his 108th birthday.  Mr. Rex always disputed the fact that he was a hero.  He said he was only doing his duty, but to the people of Kentucky, we simply can’t see it any other way.

The area’s last surviving World War I era veteran served with the Army in Europe at the end of the Great War.  He remained with the Army for four years, but he retained a commitment to serve for the rest of his life.  He served as chaplain of the Okolona VFW until his death and logged more than 13 thousand volunteer hours at the Louisville VA hospital— since his 85th birthday.

Still, what made Mr. Rex special to us isn’t the quantity of hours or years— though there were many of both—but the quality of his time.  The veterans who had the good fortune to spend some time with him, during his many visits to the VA Hospital, spoke with a man who not only shared their experience but also helped blaze the trail for their service.  For those brave men and women who served their country and received treatment for illness or injury, the ubiquitous smile of Robley Rex made a world of difference when working toward recovery.  He tried to cheer them up, he’d say.  And if you ask anyone he encountered, you’ll hear that he succeeded.

Today, it’s difficult to imagine a time when America was not yet the most powerful nation in the world, when the military might of United States was in question.  Robley Rex served at a time when our states had been reunited for little over five decades and the road ahead lay in question.  It was on the will, courage, and determination of soldiers like Robley Rex that the future of the United States was secured.  Whether he admitted it or not, Madam Speaker, he was a treasure to our community, a true American Hero, and he will not be forgotten

I am humbled by his life’s service, thankful for all he did, and I know my colleagues will join me in honoring the life and legacy of Robley Rex.  I yield back the remainder of my time.