With Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day and Victory in Europe (V-E) Day celebrations taking place this month, State Representative Anne Gonzales (R-Westerville) today held a press conference to pay special tribute to two World War II veterans from central Ohio. Captain Robert Arn (a pilot in the U.S. Army) and Sgt. George Peto (of the U.S. Marine Corps) both are the last surviving members of their platoons.

Capt. Arn flew more than 100 missions over the Himalayas, delivering fuel and supplies to American forces. Sgt. Peto served 32 months in combat in the Pacific Theatre and was one of only 24 survivors—out of an initial 200+ troops—who stormed the island of Peleliu.

“I was truly honored to have the opportunity to meet these two heroes and hear their stories of the warfront,” said Rep. Gonzales, who was joined at the press conference by Otterbein University students who have spent an entire semester studying World War II and honing their communications, interviewing and writing skills. “Their bravery and contributions to the war effort have made a lasting mark not only on our nation’s history, but on world history as well. I am so pleased that the Otterbein students and I were able to thank these two gentlemen for what they’ve done to protect democracy and defend our nation’s security.”

While at the press conference, Rep. Gonzales also discussed recently introduced legislation that strives to assist Ohio’s newest generation of veterans by helping them find employment upon returning home from deployment.

House Bill 98 will allow state licensing agencies to consider a veteran’s skill set when they apply for a license, as well as grant special extensions to members of the Reserve and National Guard whose licenses expired while they were mobilized.

“As the war in Afghanistan winds down and service members begin to return home, they will bring to the job market skills that are critical to Ohio’s workforce development goals,” said Rep. Gonzales. “We owe it to these men and women to remove as many obstacles as possible when it comes to transitioning back to civilian life.”

In addition to granting extensions for license renewals, House Bill 98 also will allow boards to grant extensions for members of the Reserve and National Guard for meeting their continuing education requirements.

Ohio has the sixth-largest veteran population in the United States. As of last year, there were an estimated 900,000 veterans living in the state of Ohio, and of that number, nearly 650,000 have served in or in support of a theater of combat.

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