CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Monday, September 12, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 5937, as amended, a bill to amend title 36, United States Code, to authorize the American Battle Monuments Commission to acquire, operate, and maintain the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial in Marnes-la-Coquette, France, and for other purposes, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 5937 was introduced on September 6, 2016, by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) and was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in addition, to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
H.R. 5937, as amended, authorizes the American Battle Monuments Commission to enter into an agreement with the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial Foundation to acquire, operate, and maintain the Lafeyette Escadrille Memorial in Marnes-la-Coquette, France. Under such an agreement, the Commission shall make necessary arrangements to ensure the ongoing maintenance of the memorial, including the cemetery at the memorial that contains the remains of 49 aviators of the United States who died during World War I.
Congress enacted legislation in 1923 to establish the American Battle Monuments Commission, which is an independent federal agency that is responsible for honoring American armed forces where they have served, and for controlling the construction of military monuments and markers on foreign soil. In performing its functions, the Commission administers, operates and maintains on foreign soil 25 permanent American burial grounds, and 27 separate memorials, monuments and markers, including three memorials in the United States. Presently there are 124,905 American war dead interred in these cemeteries, of which 30,922 are from World War I, 93,233 are from World War II and 750 are from the Mexican-American War.
H.R. 5937, as amended, authorizes the Commission to enter into agreements to maintain The Lafayette Escadrille Memorial, located just outside Paris in Marnes-la-Coquette. The Memorial honors the American volunteer pilots who flew with the French military prior to and after the United States’ entry into WWI. Many volunteers elected to transfer to the US Army Air Service after America entered the war and served as the core of combat experienced pilots for what became today’s the US Air Force. Roughly 200 American volunteer pilots flew for France before the US entered World War I. These Americans were informally known as the “Lafayette Flying Corps.” A small group of these pilots were specifically brought together to create an all-American Squadron in April 1916, which ultimately became known as the “Escadrille Lafayette”, or Lafayette Squadron. The intent of an All-American squadron was to highlight the war effort to the American public and generate support for the Allies. The squadron participated in all major campaigns of the war and downed numerous enemy aircraft.
A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate is currently not available.
For questions or further information please contact John Huston with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-5539.