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Tribute To David Mondt

Rep. Tom Latham

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Madam Speaker, I rise to recognize David Mondt, a World War II Army Air Corps and National Guard veteran from Boone County, Iowa, and to express my appreciation for his dedication and commitment to his country.

The Boone News Republican is currently running a series of articles that honors one Boone County veteran every Tuesday from Memorial Day to Veterans Day. David Mondt was recognized on Tuesday, June 29. Below is the article in its entirety: Boone County Veterans: David Mondt

At 21 years of age, many kids are still wet behind the ears and trying to carve out a living for themselves. When David Mondt was 22, he was flying nighttime raids to drop paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne into the battlefields of Europe. Mondt, 87, previously a first lieutenant in the Army Air Corps during World War II, was born in Boone and has lived in the community nearly his entire life. He lived in Perry for a year in his childhood, at which time he was hit by a Hawkeye Laundry truck. No lasting injuries resulted from the accident, but Mondt soon returned to Boone and continued his education. ``The biggest thing was getting a bicycle, which I eventually did,'' Mondt said of the most significant part of his childhood. When World War II began, Mondt watched the Iowa National Guard mobilize and head to Louisiana. ``Then they started the draft, and I didn't want to wait for that, so I joined the Air Force,'' he said. Mondt began training to be an Army Air Corps mechanic when he first joined, as pilot training was only available to soldiers 21 and older. While in mechanic training, the age requirements for pilot training were lowered, and Mondt, then 18, applied and was accepted into program. He went into the pilot school in Texas, and mere days before graduating the program was scrapped and modified to the Flight Officer Program. ``In one day, November the 10th, 1942, I was a Private, a Staff Sergeant and a flight officer in a matter of hours,'' Mondt said. Mondt was eventually placed with the 62nd Troop Carrier Squadron, men with whom he would fly for the rest of the war. Every man in the squadron would return home alive at the war's conclusion. The squadron flew mostly day-to-day supply and troop transport missions. Mondt flew a C-47 Skytrain cargo plane for the entirety of the war, and said he missed a pre-D-Day appearance by General Eisenhower because he was running a load of supplies. Mondt originally flew runs in North Africa, then as part of the American invasion of Italy where he dropped paratroopers on Sicily. After the fascist collapse in Italy, Mondt was sent to England and prepared for the D-Day invasion. Mondt would drop members of the 82nd Airborne in the now-famous invasion of Europe, and in the nighttime raid the C-47s received enemy fire, but managed to deploy the paratroopers successfully. ``Everything was fine, as long as you were over England or over the water. When we hit the coast of France we started receiving fire from the Germans,'' Mondt said. One plane from the squadron was shot down, but the crew survived. Mondt's plane would return from the mission, but it was hit by anti-aircraft fire. All the windows were blown out and Mondt was hit by the shrapnel flying about the cabin. Mondt received the Purple Heart for his injury, although he would carry pieces of shrapnel in his back for years. Despite all the events conspiring around him that would become critical to world history, Mondt said that in the end the daily activities were orderly and regimented. ``Whatever they told you to do, you did,'' Mondt said. ``It was really just an everyday occurrence. When you weren't dropping paratroopers, you were hauling supplies to frontline troops.'' Mondt flew British and Polish soldiers into the Battle of Arnhem, but toward the end of the war more flights were daytime operations. Mondt said that after crossing the Rhine River, there were hardly any German air forces left. The planes had all been bombed at the airfields by the Army Air Corps. ``If you got back from the flight, you got a place to sleep, and it was warm, and [you got] good food. The ground troops ate out of mess kits. We never did,'' Mondt said. When he returned to the U.S. after his tour of duty, he was offered a chance to leave the Air Corps while in St. Louis. Mondt accepted and returned to Iowa. He didn't spend long out of an airplane, however, as he joined the Army Aviation of the National Guard upon returning to Boone. He would fly aircraft with the National Guard, including helicopter training in Texas, and would serve in the Guard until the age of 60. At one point Mondt was told the Army would be decommissioning all of its planes for helicopters, but he never heard what came of that plan. Life was normal after the war. Mondt sold insurance when he wasn't on Guard duty, and he married his wife, Yvonna. They raised four children and lived a quiet life. ``Mowing grass,'' Mondt said jokingly when asked what he did for a hobby while living in Boone. Mondt said the war had little permanent effect on him, as his outlook on life after the war was similar to his outlook on life before the conflict. ``It [the war] hasn't affected me at all, as far as I can recall,'' Mondt said. Beginning in 1951 his squadron from the war began holding reunions, and the original gathering had 41 participants. Though the numbers have dwindled, Mondt still attends reunion functions for the war.

I commend David Mondt for his many years of loyalty and service to our great nation. It is an immense honor to represent him in the United States Congress, and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.