TRIBUTE TO THOMAS O’LOUGHLIN
Congressional Record (Senate - May 23, 2019)
Mrs. HYDE-SMITH. Mr. President, each Memorial Day we, as Americans, take time to honor the heroes who gave their lives in service to our country, from those who died in the creation of this great Nation to those who today risk their lives in the most dangerous corners of the world.
As we approach this Memorial Day, I want to take a moment to honor the heroes still among us who served in the Second World War. There are fewer than half a million of these veterans still living, and we lose more than 300 every day.
These men and women of the World War II era are truly heroes here among us. In the great battle between good and evil, these heroes advanced over rough terrain against bombs and bullets and tanks.
Today, their battle is against the unrelenting march of time and the inescapable effects of aging. For these veterans, whose valor many of us only know from history books or movies, we still have the opportunity and sacred duty to express our gratitude, so we honor them as we aspire to be greater than we are. If we desire to serve more than ourselves, we must honor them.
On this Memorial Day, I take time to draw special attention to one of these heroes, who is now hospitalized in Mississippi.
Ninety-four years ago, Thomas O’Loughlin was born in an Irish-Catholic community in New Jersey. When his country called him to war, Tom responded and made his first trip to Mississippi, courtesy of the U.S. Army, for training at Camp Shelby. He deployed to the European Theater where, in January 1944, he was captured by the Axis forces and held as prisoner of war for more than a year before liberation.
Following the war, Tom served as a guard during the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals. One of the prisoners in his charge was Deputy Fuhrer Rudolf Hess.
Following the Nuremberg Trials, Tom continued serving his country in the Armed Forces, once again serving in combat with the 811th Engineer Aviation Battalion assigned to the Fifth Air Force in Korea. He returned to civilian life in 1952, eventually making his way back to Mississippi. Keeping his Jersey accent and Irish sparkle, Tom made Mississippi his home and married Rachel Pitts, a Southern belle. They settled down in Laurel, MS, and like many members of the Greatest Generation, Tom dedicated himself to serving his community as a sponsor for those facing addiction. Even now, he calls from his hospital bed to encourage sobriety and offer support to those who still turn to him for help.
To honor Tom O’Loughlin, I had a U.S. flag flown over the U.S. Capitol. I pray his health returns, and I ask we all offer prayers of gratitude for Tom and the other World War II veterans across our country, for they truly are heroes here among us.