Gianforte Works to Advance Bill Honoring Four Fallen Airmen
Congressman Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) and Bryan Wells, chairman of the B-47 Memorial Committee and a resident of Emigrant, today testified before a House Natural Resources subcommittee to advocate for the advancement of Gianforte’s bipartisan B-47 Ridge Designation Act, H.R. 1267.
Today’s hearing is the bill’s first in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“This bill would designate an unnamed mountain ridge located southwest of Emigrant Peak in Montana, B-47 Ridge. This measure would honor Lt. Fred Hixenbaugh, Capt. Bill Faulconer, Lt. Lloyd Sawyers and Lt. David Sutton,” Gianforte said.
The men died on July 23, 1962 when their B-47 bomber, flying a training mission from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, crashed into the side of Emigrant Peak.
“One resident remembered the crash and hiked up years later. Bryan Wells, who is here today, hiked up to the crash site many times, but decided more should be done to honor the four men. In 2016, Bryan built a memorial for the crew and invited the families. After working with Bryan on the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act, he approached me about getting a plaque on the ridge for those crew members. And today, here we are,” Gianforte added.
Wells testified before the committee in support of Gianforte’s bill. He cited the airmen’s sacrifice, the crash’s impact on the Paradise Valley community in 1962, and the community’s support of Gianforte’s B-47 Ridge Designation Act.
“We feel the B-47 Ridge Designation Act does two things. It honors the ultimate sacrifice of these young men and their families and it is a public service for future generations. When hikers stumble onto this debris field in the future there will be a marker explaining what happened here and the names of the four young men who perished protecting our country, a reminder of the enormous sacrifices these brave men have made for all of us,” Wells said.
The bill’s next likely step is a vote in the House Natural Resources Committee.
On February 14, 2019, Gianforte introduced the B-47 Ridge Designation Act, H.R. 1267. U.S. Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester introduced companion legislation in the Senate, S. 490, on the same day. The bill passed the Senate in February 2020.
In the 115th Congress, Gianforte, Daines, and Tester introduced the measure in their respective chambers, H.R. 6041 and S. 3035.