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Murkowski Honors Veteran, Cultural Pioneer Jorgy Jorgensen

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In honor of Alaska General Aviation Appreciation Month, Senator Lisa Murkowski today released the Veteran Spotlight of Holger “Jorgy” Jorgensen, an Alaska Territorial Guard member and U.S. Army veteran living in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Jorgy Jorgensen saw his first airplane flying over the Nome area when he was just six, and knew instantly that he wanted to be a pilot.  In 1942, a week after his 15th birthday, Jorgensen volunteered for the Alaska Territorial Guard and worked as a radio operator, monitoring the airwaves for signs of the Japanese during WWII.  A few years later, Jorgensen enlisted in the U.S. Army and was tapped to be in the elite Alaska Scouts.  

Now 85, Jorgensen says the Army shaped his life. “In many ways, the war and military service was one of my life’s greatest fortunes,” said Jorgensen.  “It opened up doors for me, and it was because of the G.I. Bill that I was able to fulfill my childhood dream of becoming a pilot.  Flying was such a big part of my life - until I went blind in 1994.”

During his Veteran Spotlight interview, Jorgensen recalled being a young boy in Nome in the when Alaska Natives were segregated from the White population.  He tells the story of a defiant act in 1944 when he refused to move from the White section of Nome’s movie theater.  Jorgensen’s actions proved to be the spark that ignited equality in the gold rush town.

“Jorgy’s story is one of an Alaskan pioneer, in more ways than one,” said Sen. Murkowski.  “It’s amazing that a single man had such a huge impact on Nome civil rights and on the Alaskan aviation community.  We owe it to veterans like Jorgy Jorgensen to honor them through sharing their stories, and we owe it to the rest of us to learn from the high levels of patriotism, commitment and service they demonstrated for us.”

The “Veteran Spotlight” project is a monthly focus on an Alaska veteran of our conflicts worldwide to honor and draw the well-deserved attention to Alaska’s men and women who served.  Every month, the Senator will post a biography and an interview with an Alaskan who served our country abroad, in conjunction with the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project.

To nominate an Alaskan veteran to be included in Sen. Murkowski’s Veteran Spotlight project, email Spotlight@Murkowski.Senate.Gov.

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