Murkowski Honors Vietnam Veteran, Alaskan Veteran Advocate

Big Lake Resident Working to Start Last Frontier Honor Flight, “I’ve Been Thanked More in the Last Two Years than the Previous Fifty”

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Lisa Murkowski is releasing her 12th Veteran Spotlight installment today, featuring Ron Travis of Big Lake.  Travis, a U.S. Navy veteran who served in Vietnam, has devoted his life to serving his fellow veterans. These days, Travis is working to start the Last Frontier Honor Flight, the first non-profit in Alaska dedicated to bringing veterans to Washington, DC to visit the memorials dedicated to their service.

During his Veteran Spotlight interview, Travis talks about how the Navy was a family business; his father and brother both served in the Navy, so when Travis got out of high school in 1961 he also joined.  Travis was assigned to the USS Providence CLG-6 and quickly sent to Vietnam.  The guided-missile cruiser Providence was the first U.S. Navy ship of its size to travel up the Saigon River and park in front of Saigon.

Ron Travis, U.S. Navy Veteran

(Click on image for excerpt of Travis talking about standing up for his fellow veterans during the Vietnam War and today, CLICK HERE for the extended interview)

After getting out of the Navy, Travis used the GI Bill to go to college in Washington state where he recalls his professors, during the height of the Vietnam War, organized protests to the war.  Travis and his fellow veterans were some of the few to safely return from Vietnam and believed the troops there still needed support. In response, the group organized a counter protest to have a veteran in every classroom so that the professors could not shirk their teaching duties. This act would be the first in a lifetime of standing up for America’s veterans.

“I have been thanked more for my service in the last 2 years than I have in the last 50 before,” said Ron Travis.  “We’re on the right track, but I think we can do more.  We need to recognize our veterans and the sacrifices they have made.  Some people take it for granted.  It’s all about the veterans, and I am proud to be part of it.”

Travis also speaks of the growing awareness of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder among returning military personnel, saying that in years past it had been dismissed as mostly being “shellshocked.”  He says that the reality is “you’re not carrying around a bullet, but you’re scarred.”

Ron Travis is now devoting his life to organizing the first Honor Flight in Alaska, and has set a goal to bring 25 of Alaska’s WWII veterans to Washington, DC this fall.  

“Ron Travis’ story is one of a true American patriot,” said Senator Murkowski.  “He has lived some of the injustices we have put our veterans through in the past, and has been a driving force in Alaska to make sure we fully appreciate their sacrifices.  On this Memorial Day, and every day, we owe it to veterans like Ron Travis to honor them through sharing their stories, and we owe it to the rest of us to learn from the high levels of patriotism, commitment and service they demonstrate for us.”

The “Veteran Spotlight” project is Senator Murkowski’s monthly focus on an Alaska veteran of American conflicts worldwide to honor and draw well-deserved attention to Alaska’s men and women who served.  Today’s installment is the twelfth in the series that began on Memorial Day weekend of 2012.  Every month, Sen. Murkowski posts a biography and an interview with an Alaskan who served our country abroad in conjunction with the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project, who recently designated the “Veteran Spotlight” series as a ‘Best Practice’ of this veteran outreach and education effort.  You can watch them all by clicking here.

Senator Murkowski invites all Alaskans to nominate a veteran from the 49th state to be featured in the Veteran Spotlight project.  If you have a family member or friend in the community you think has a story to share, email Spotlight@Murkowski.Senate.Gov.

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