Rep. Tom Dent’s office assists veteran in obtaining citations for awards, leads to deserving ceremony for his heroic actions

As Rep. Tom Dent can attest, you never know what requests or issues may come knocking at your office door as a legislator.

Earlier this summer, Dent’s office was asked to assist Loren Gee in obtaining citations for awards he received for his service during the Vietnam War. When Dent’s Legislative Assistant Syl Wiles, who previously worked for the Army, began to speak with Gee, she discovered there had never been an awards ceremony to recognize his service. Wiles reached out to Lt. Col., William Blakely, 66th Theater Aviation Command and shared Gee’s story and heroics.

“Most of the focus of our job as a legislator revolves around what we do in Olympia. However, the most interesting and sometimes the most rewarding part of the job is having the opportunity to meet the people we represent in our district and around the state and provide them assistance on the issues they are working on,” said Dent, R-Moses Lake. “Helping Loren obtain his citations was the least we could do compared to what he did for his fellow soldiers and his country.”

After Dent’s office contacted Blakely, the 66th Theater Aviation Command invited Gee and his family to take part in a ceremony at the Aviation Readiness Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord with the newest pilots in the Washington National Guard. He was presented a Certificate of Appreciation for his actions in Vietnam and also recognized for receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) by Chief Warrant Officer 5 Noel Larson, also a DFC recipient. Larson escorted Gee on a tour to visit the flight line to view the helicopter operations.

“I would like to thank Rep. Dent and his staff. I was honored he would attend such a ceremony,” said Gee. “I was very impressed with the young folks I met who are now serving our country. It is the most generals I have ever met in a day, but every soldier I met that day made it very special for me and my family.”

Gee is credited with saving numerous lives of the 75th Infantry Regiment Rangers. The Rangers were on a long-range reconnaissance patrol, deep inside the Viet Cong when they came under gunfire from all directions. They began taking casualties and sent out an immediate call for air support. Gee heard the call and while he was advised not to go in, he broke formation and came to the aid of the Battalion. The Rangers were able to escape because of his actions.

“It was amazing to hear firsthand accounts of Loren’s heroics. The enemy had a group of Rangers pinned down but thanks to his actions they were able to escape and care for the injured soldiers. I don’t think many of us realize what those brave men and women went through in Vietnam and any wars or conflicts,” said Dent. “With all of the discord and dissention across the country, it is important we do not lose sight of and honor those who provided our freedoms for us in the past and continue to fight to make sure we have them in the future.”

The DFC is a military decoration awarded to any officer or enlisted member of the United States Armed Forces who distinguishes himself or herself in support of operations by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight.

Other notable recipients of the DFC include Douglas MacArthur, George Patton IV, George H.W. Bush and Buzz Aldrin.

During Gee’s tenure as a helicopter pilot he flew more than 1,000 hours and logged more than 750 missions, including flying around the clock during the Battle at Hamburger Hill.

Loren Gee (second from left) with military personnel and Rep. Dent after receiving his Distinguished Flying Cross.

PHOTO: Chief Warrant Officer 2 Loren Gee, with military personnel and Rep. Tom Dent after Gee was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

For more photos of the ceremony, click here.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov