Tester Pays Tribute to Vietnam Veteran on Senate Floor

Senator reads powerful obituary of Bill Ebeltoft who “lived three lives: before, during and after Vietnam”

U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, took to the Senate floor yesterday to pay tribute to the life of Chief Warrant Officer Second Class William C. Ebeltoft, a decorated Vietnam veteran and Montana resident. Tester read a powerful family obituary written about Bill, which tells the compelling story of his life “before, during, and after service.”

“It’s incredibly powerful,” Tester said of the obituary. “Because quite frankly it’s about one man, but it’s actually about a generation of men and women who served in Vietnam.”

William Ebeltoft earned numerous medals for his valiant acts during the Vietnam War. Like many Vietnam veterans who returned home from service, Bill struggled to adjust to civilian life. He suffered from both mental and physical ailments that followed him throughout his life. In 1994, Bill became a resident of the Montana Veterans’ Home in Columbia Falls where he lived comfortably for 26 years. Bill passed away at 73 years old on December 15, 2019.

“Bill was always a proud man, remembering himself as he was in 1969, not as he became,” Tester read from the obituary. “Who are we to suggest differently? His was not a life that many would wish for, but in some ways, Bill was a lucky man. He was surrounded to the end by staff who enjoyed and respected him. He had a chance to be helpful to others who were doing less well than he… Bill’s losses were greater than most of us could endure. Yet, to those who love him, his brother and his brother’s wife, and their sons, he will always be a brave, accomplished man, more generous than was wise, more trusting than was safe. It is not possible to wrap your arms around a loved one who leaves. But it is possible to wrap your heart around a memory.”

Read the original obituary as published HERE.