In Case You Missed It: Rep. Black Honors WWII Veteran & Cookeville Resident Lehman Riggs, Discusses Music City Honor Flight on Ralph Bristol Show

Sep 10, 2012 Issues: Veterans

Washington, D.C. (September 10, 2012) – On Friday, September 7, 2012, Congressman Diane Black (R-TN) and her husband, Dr. David Black, recently spoke on the Ralph Bristol Radio Show about World War II Veteran Lehman Riggs of Cookeville, Tennessee who just returned from his Music City Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. Music City Honor Flight is a non-profit organization that honors Nashville area WWII veterans by flying them to Washington, D.C. to see the WWII Memorial.

“Mr. Lehman Riggs is a true American hero. His story of bravery and patriotism is an inspiration. What a joy it was to hear about his trip to Washington, DC and how much it meant to him to see the WWII memorial in person. The service and sacrifices of America’s greatest generation helped to make our nation the safest and most prosperous nation in the world. Their stories of selflessness and patriotism will undoubtedly inspire Americans for generations to come. The least we can do is make sure they see the memorial that was erected to honor them and the thousands of their fellow soldiers who never returned from the battlefield,” said Congressman Black.

Earlier this year, Ralph Bristol did a special radio show about Mr. Riggs, giving his firsthand account of one of the most famous and iconic photos of WWII, “The Last Man to Die.” In 1945, Mr. Riggs was near death as he lay wounded on the battlefield in WWII. But after seeing his friend killed where he had stood just moments before, he took over the gun and started firing back against the enemy. His heroism in the heat of battle was captured on film by the famous photojournalist, Robert Capa.

A few months later, a photo of Mr. Riggs was immortalized in Life Magazine’s May 14, 1945 issue, "Victorious Yank."  For decades no one knew who the men were in the photo.  In April of this year, Mr. Riggs traveled to Germany to share his firsthand account of the famous photo for a documentary about WWII. Congressman Black’s office had helped to expedite a passport for Mr. Riggs so that he could travel to Germany to participate in the WWII documentary.

Congressman Black and Lehman Riggs at Armed Services Day in May 2012

Background on Music City Honor Flight:

The President of Music City Honor Flight, retired Army Colonel John Furgess, stated, "Sixteen million Americans served during World War II. Now there are probably just a little more than 2.7 million still alive. However, we are losing them at a rate of anywhere from l,500 to l,700 a day. So it is somewhat urgent that we take as many as possible to see the memorial that was built to thank them for their service and to mourn the more than 400,000 war dead who will never see it."

Veterans and volunteers interested in taking a trip with Music City Honor Flight should download a veteran or guardian application, or call 615-946-6048.