WASHINGTON, D.C. – Pennsylvania U.S. Senators John Fetterman and Bob Casey, along with Representatives GuyReschenthaler (R-PA) and Summer Lee (D-PA) in the House of Representatives, today introduced a bill to designate the new Department of Veterans Affairs Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, as the Henry Parham VA Clinic.
Henry Parham was a Pennsylvania veteran who served during the D-Day landings on June 7, 1944. At the time of his passing in 2021, Henry Parham was believed to be the last surviving African-American combat veteran to serve at the D-Day landings. At age 21, Parham was drafted into the Army and joined 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, a segregated Army unit of approximately 700 African-American soldiers, in preparation for the D-Day invasions. On June 6, 1944, the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion landed at Omaha Beach and for two months, Private First Class Parham and the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion stood watch over Omaha Beach, keeping the pipeline of incoming supplies and Allied troops secure before returning to the United States in September 1944.
Henry passed away in 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at the age of 99. He was survived by his wife, Ethel. Both Henry and Ethel served for decades as volunteers at the Pittsburgh VA Medical Center and their local American Legion chapter.
“Honoring our veterans means cutting through the noise and getting things done for the people who put their lives on the line for us,” said Sen. Fetterman. “Henry Parham not only served his country during his time in the Army, but also for decades after by volunteering. I am proud to lead this bill and recognize the service of a brave fellow Pennsylvanian by naming this clinic in his honor.”
“When he stormed the beaches of Normandy as part of the only all-Black combat unit to land on D-Day, Henry Parham believed he was simply doing what he was ‘supposed to do as an American’. When Henry came home, he continued serving his fellow veterans and his Nation, giving his time and energy at the VA in Pittsburgh,” said Sen. Casey. “To call Henry a hero only begins to describe his selflessness and commitment to serving others, and renaming the VA clinic in Monroeville in his honor is one small way to ensure his actions are never forgotten.”
“Henry Parham is an American hero – fighting the Nazis on the beaches of Normandy as a member of the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion,” said Rep. Reschenthaler. “The longtime Pennsylvanian’s courage and strength in the face of adversity should live on as a shining example for future generations. I am proud to introduce legislation renaming the VA clinic in Monroeville after Henry Parham in honor of his service and commitment to America.”
“Designating the new VA Clinic as the Henry Parham Clinic is a tribute to the immense courage and sacrifices made by our veterans, especially those like Henry Parham, who served with valor and distinction as a member of the all-Black 320th Very Low Altitude Anti-Aircraft Barrage Balloon Battalion. This historic battalion, the only Black combat unit to take part in the D-Day invasion and the sole barrage balloon battalion to land on the beaches, played a pivotal role in securing Omaha Beach on that fateful June day in 1944,” said Rep. Lee. “As we honor Henry’s legacy, we also recognize the vital contributions of our veterans and their families to our community. This bill represents a solemn commitment to ensuring that their service and dedication are forever remembered and appreciated. Let us continue to honor veterans like Henry and his wife, Ethel, who gave so much to our country, by providing them with the highest quality of care and support they deserve.”
Sen. Fetterman has advocated for keeping our promise to our veterans, including expanding and improving health care access for service members, increasing access to mental health services, expanding alternative treatments for veterans suffering from addiction issues, and improving the quality of care provided through the VA.