Rhode Island General Assembly urges White House to hold state funeral for final World War II Medal of Honor recipient when they pass

- Bi-partisan initiative requests final salute to greatest generation of veterans -

In a bi-partisan effort, the Rhode Island General Assembly recently called on the Trump Administration to provide a state funeral in Washington. D.C., for the last remaining World War II Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, when he passes away.

In total, 474 Americans were awarded our nation’s highest military honor during the Second World War, but only two remain today.

The nationwide, bi-partisan initiative is led by the nonprofit State Funeral for World War II Veterans Chairman Lee William (Bill) McNutt and State Chairperson Matthew Elias.

"The approximate 400,000 remaining veterans of the Second World War will benefit from a State Funeral in Washington D.C. for the final Congressional Medal of Honor recipient from World War II,” said Elias. “This will be a final salute to the greatest generation, and we’re grateful for the Rhode Island General Assembly's support. We need as many elected voices as possible from across the county to join this cause if we are to ensure this happens.”

The State Funeral for World War II Veterans’ nationwide campaign calls for the President of the United States to designate a State Funeral for the last Congressional Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, as a final salute to the 16 million men and women of the greatest generation who served in our armed forces from 1941 to 1945. The White House holds sole authority to enact a State Funeral and does not require approval from the U.S. Congress. A State Funeral is a seven to 10-day national event and consists of ceremonies within the state where the honoree was in residence, with-in Washington, D.C., and in the state (or at Arlington National Cemetery) where the authorized individual has chosen to be interred. All funeral arrangements are made by the U.S. Military District of Washington, D.C., and involve Armed Forces honor guards, elite military bands, and/or guns support (source White House.gov website). The last two State Funerals were Ronald Reagan in 2004 and George Bush in 2018. The last non-Presidential State Funeral was General Douglas MacArthur in 1964.

This effort is the brainchild of McNutt’s 10-year-old daughter, Rabel, a public school student, in honor of her godfather, Walter Ehlers, the oldest holder of the Congressional Medal of Honor when he died in 2014. He received the recognition for his efforts at The Battle for Normandy in June 1944.

“We are blessed to have Matthew as our powerful State Chairman in Rhode Island,” said McNutt. “He gets things done and is deep in the veteran community as a retired Navy Officer and U.S. Naval Academy alumni.”

Two World War II Congressional Medal of Honor recipients remain with us: Hershel “Woody” Williams of West Virginia and Charles Coolidge of Tennessee. Both are more than 90 years of age.

Rhode Island is one of six states to call for a state funeral for the World War II resolution.

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