Barr’s Legislation to Rename Lexington VA Facilities Passes House and Senate

Legislation to honor two Kentucky heroes of World War II heads to the President’s desk for signature.

February 15, 2018

H.R. 4533, legislation introduced by Congressman Andy Barr (KY-06) was passed tonight by the United States Senate.  The bill which would rename the two campuses of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in Lexington to honor two Kentucky heroes passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday and now heads to President Trump’s desk for signature.  The legislation will rename the VA health care facility on Veterans Drive in Lexington as the Troy Bowling Campus, and the facility on Leestown Road as the Franklin R. Sousley Campus.

“We can never repay Private First Class Franklin Sousley and Private Troy Bowling for their service to our nation, but renaming these VA campuses in their honor will ensure their memory and sacrifices are never forgotten,” said Congressman Andy Barr.  “I applaud the work of the Sixth District Veterans Coalition for bringing this idea to my attention, House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Phil Roe for his support in moving the bill through the House, and Leader McConnell for ensuring swift action in the Senate to deliver this important legislation to the President’s desk.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “I applaud Congressman Andy Barr for his leadership on this legislation. Our nation is forever indebted to those who fought to protect our democracy, including many honorable Kentuckians.  I was proud to support Congressman Barr’s work to commemorate two of the Commonwealth’s great veterans.” 

Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Phil Roe said, “I thank Representative Barr for his leadership in introducing this legislation in honor of two American heroes, Private First Class Franklin Runyon Sousley and Private Troy Bowling, who fought on the beaches of Iwo Jima during World War II. It’s only fitting that a week before the 73rd anniversary of the invasion of Iwo Jima, we honor both of these men by naming the two VA medical center campuses in Lexington, Kentucky after them.”

Click here for video of Congressman Barr’s remarks before House passage of the bill.

Private Troy Bowling served in the United States Marines during the campaign against Japan during World War II. His unit was among the first to land on Iwo Jima, a Pacific island on which more than 6,800 United States service members gave their lives to secure.  After the war, Private Bowling devoted more than 78,000 hours of volunteer service at the Lexington, Kentucky VA Medical Center over more than 66 years.  He was an active member of the Disabled Veterans of America, serving in multiple leadership positions including Kentucky State Commander. He received the Lifetime Service Achievement Award from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and is a member of the Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame.  Private Bowling passed away in 2017.

Private First Class Franklin Sousley of Fleming County, Kentucky also fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima.  Shortly after American forces secured Mount Suribachi, Pfc. Sousley along-side five other fellow services members, raised a large U.S. flag so it could be seen over the island.  An iconic photograph taken while raising the U.S. flag, led to an immortalized symbol of the American bravery, perseverance, and sacrifice endured by members of the U.S. Armed Forces during the intense battles of World War II. Less than a month later, Pfc. Sousley was killed in combat by a Japanese sniper on March 21, 1945.  His remains were laid to rest at the Elizaville Cemetery in Fleming County in 1947.