This year’s “Annual Bipartisan Tribute to Veterans and Those Who Serve” reception, held on October 18, 2023 at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, DC, focused on both veterans of America’s wars and NGOs such as the Warrior Canine Connection. It featured high-profile guests, including tenor Anthony Kearns, CBS’ Nikole Killion as well as members of Congress.
As seen in Broadway World….
2023 Annual Bipartisan Tribute To Veterans And Those Who Serve Featured Tenor Anthony Kearns, CBS’ Nikole Killion, Members Of Congress, Others
Annual bipartisan tribute to veterans and those who serve features tenor Anthony Kearns, CBS’ Nikole Killion, members of Congress, and others
A high-profile line-up featuring world-renowned tenor Anthony Kearns and other V.I.P.s showed up in full force for this year’s “Annual Bipartisan Tribute to Veterans and Those Who Serve” reception on Oct. 18, 2023, at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Kearns was joined by Nikole Killion, CBS Congressional Correspondent, who served as Emcee; Medal of Honor Recipient Colonel Paris Davis (U.S. Army, Ret.) and ex-POW Colonel Mike Brazelton (U.S.A.F., Ret.); Lt. General G.I. Tuck (U.S.A.F., Ret.), Members of Congress, and others.
Tonight, we have a brief, powerful program with one of the great tenors of our time to help us pay tribute to those who served and serve, in uniform and in public office, and to those who help them heal in the aftermath.Nikole Killion, CBS Congressional Correspondent
“Tonight, we have a brief, powerful program with one of the great tenors of our time to help us pay tribute to those who served and serve, in uniform and in public office, and to those who help them heal in the aftermath,” Killion said. Killion also acknowledged from several service organizations, including Rick Yount of The Warrior Canine Connection and Matt Cary, a Vietnam veteran, of the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes.
The formal program featured a Missing Man Table, a reminder of those who have been left behind – including more than 81,000 missing Americans, of which nearly 1,600 are unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War. Colonel Brazelton was honored for his sacrifice after being shot down during his 120th combat mission. He was held captive for nearly seven years.
Mr. Kearns, who has become known as “Washington’s favorite tenor,” dedicated the song, “Bring Him Home” from the musical, LES MISERABLES, to the 50th anniversary of the return of Brazelton and other American Prisoners of War from Vietnam to thunderous applause.
It was an honor to participate in an event that shines a light on American veterans who gave, and are still actively giving, their best to defend our collective freedomsAnthony Kearns, world-renowned tenor
Kearns said, “It was an honor to participate in an event that shines a light on American veterans who gave, and are still actively giving, their best to defend our collective freedoms.” Kearns, a member of the PBS super-group, The Irish Tenors, has performed for four U.S. Presidents, three Speakers of the House, and with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Ms. Killion said she was especially pleased to recognize Medal of Honor Recipient Paris Davis, who was deployed to Vietnam in 1962 and again in 1965, making him one of the first African American Special Forces officers as the civil rights movement gained momentum at home.
Colonel Davis received his Medal of Honor by President Joseph Biden for his actions on June 18, 1965, where he commanded a team of inexperienced South Vietnamese, along with Special Forces Soldiers, against a superior enemy force. He sustained multiple gunshot and grenade fragment wounds during the 19-hour battle and refused to leave the battlefield until his men were safely removed, ultimately solidifying his title as a true American hero.
Other V.I.P. guests included Jim Hooker, who was assigned to a top-secret joint unconventional warfare task force created by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and U.S. Air Force Retired and current CEO of Robbins-Gioia, Lt. General G.I. Tuck.
“It is important for Veterans to serve in public office. Our common bond of military service allows for bipartisanship, which we desperately need. Our National Defense Strategy resourcing depends on Congress working together…critical to our nation’s defense and future,” Lt. Gen. Tuck said.
Rep. Jim Baird (R-IN), a decorated Vietnam veteran who was proud to fight among America’s finest from all over the USA, said that his fellow soldiers were “every bit as good as their predecessors and those that have followed,” and he is glad America continues to support its veterans and active-duty service members.
It’s also very gratifying and important to see members of Congress who served in uniform help shape foreign policy and share their expertise with those fighting in theaterCongressman Jim Baird (R-IN)
“It’s also very gratifying and important to see members of Congress who served in uniform help shape foreign policy and share their expertise with those fighting in theater,” said Baird, a House Foreign Affairs Committee member.
Baird was joined by U.S. Representatives Ronny Jackson (TX, Member of the House Committee on Armed Services and Committee on Foreign Affairs), Cory Mills (FL, Member of the House Committee on Armed Services and Committee on Foreign Affairs), Nathaniel Moran (FL, Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs), Keith Self (TX, Member of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and Committee on Foreign Affairs), and Derrick VanOrden (WI, Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs).
Ms. Susan Phalen, a former State Department official and senior advisor with the House Rules Committee, and Mr. Samuel Aronson, ex-State Department diplomat and author of the best-selling book, “The Secret Gate: A True Story of Courage and Sacrifice During the Collapse of Afghanistan”, were also recognized.
The evening started with an invocation by Captain Eric Christian, U.S. Navy; The Pledge of Allegiance led by Rear Admiral Will E. Watson from the U.S. Coast Guard and 2018 U.S. Air Force Spouse of the Year Kristen Christy and included an emotional presentation of the Vietnam-era’s “Operation Babylift.”
Operation Babylift, authorized by President Gerald Ford on April 3, 1975, was a mass evacuation of children from South Vietnam to the United States and other western countries.
One of the children that made it to the United States included guest Hung Ly, who was on the last C4 out of Saigon and treated by Gwen Phalen, an American Red Cross volunteer in Hawaii. Hung Ly drove all night from Florida to attend the event and meet Gwen Phalen’s husband, Colonel Tom Phalen.
Ms. Killion noted the importance of groups such as The Warrior Canine Connection (WCC) in addressing the long-term impact of combat service on veterans which include Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, traumatic brain injury, and depression.
Rick Yount, WCC founder and executive director, said the organization provides highly skilled service dogs to military veterans to help them heal from the visible and invisible wounds of war. Since its founding in 2011, the WCC has supported the recovery and rehabilitation of 7,200 wounded Veterans around the country and placed 135 assistance dogs with wounded Veterans and Military Families.
In a surprise announcement, Mr. Yount said the WCC would name a highly skilled service puppy after the evening’s honoree, Colonel Paris Davis, further fueling an atmosphere of celebration.
I am very grateful to receive this honor in recognition of my military service. I look forward to meeting my WCC namesake puppy, who will carry forward my life’s work to the next generation of soldiers and help one special veteran in need heal from his or her war woundsColonel Paris Davis (U.S. Army, Ret.)
“I am very grateful to receive this honor in recognition of my military service. I look forward to meeting my WCC namesake puppy, who will carry forward my life’s work to the next generation of soldiers and help one special veteran in need heal from his or her war wounds,” said Colonel Davis.
Hospitality was provided by American Beverage, Beer Institute, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, NBWA, and Wine Institute.
Additionally, guests enjoyed whiskey provided by The Fighting 69th Irish Whiskey. Accompanied by two Irish Wolfhounds, Colonel James Tierney led the Regimental Toast of the 69th Army Reg. to U.S. military veterans of all wars.
Colonel Tierney concluded the evening with a special Toast to American military in harm’s way, involving all guests and two beautiful Irish Wolfhounds.
I am grateful to Anthony Kearns, Nikole Killion, and everyone who attended, especially, our guest of honor, Medal of Honor recipient, Colonel Paris Davis. It was truly a night of inspirationKirsten Fedewa, President, Kirsten Fedewa & Associates, LLC
Ms. Kirsten Fedewa, whose firm organized the event, said: “I am grateful to Anthony Kearns, Nikole Killion, and everyone who attended, especially, our guest of honor, Medal of Honor recipient, Colonel Paris Davis. It was truly a night of inspiration.”