Memorandum of Disapproval of Bill for the Relief of Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Page.
I HAVE WITHHELD my approval from H. R. 1315, a bill "For the relief of Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Page."
H. R. 1315 would pay the sum of $14,430.88 to Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Page in connection with the wrongful death of their son who was a member of the Armed Forces.
On the night of July 4, 1954, the decedent, Private First Class Charles H. Page, Junior, was a member of a motorized patrol at Killeen Army Base, Killeen, Texas. As the patrol approached a classified area after dark it was properly halted and challenged by a posted walking sentry. The decedent identified the patrol, whereupon the sentry requested that the dome light inside the vehicle be turned on. The patrol had twice passed the same sentry earlier that evening after the fall of darkness and had been allowed to proceed after the sentry had been informed that the light did not work. But, this time, on again being informed that the light did not work, the sentry directed the decedent to dismount and be recognized. The latter refused, calling out to inquire if the sentry did not recognize his voice and, at the same time, directing the driver of the vehicle to proceed. The sentry ordered the vehicle to halt and then fired, fatally wounding the decedent.
The decedent was survived by his parents who are the beneficiaries of this bill. The parents were paid a death gratuity of $569.22 and are currently in receipt of monthly benefits from the decedent's free $ 10,000 indemnity. In addition, upon a showing of dependency, they could qualify for regular monthly payments under the Social Security Act and under laws administered by the Veterans' Administration. The award proposed in H. R. 1315 is additive to the foregoing benefits.
I cannot see my way clear to approve this bill. The Federal Government has provided a costly, comprehensive and orderly system of benefits for survivors of members of the Armed Forces who die in service. As long as the death is service-connected, these benefits are payable regardless of the cause, whether it be in combat or as the result of a tragic incident like the present one. As I have previously noted, the parents here have already received, and presently are continuing to receive, substantial benefits on account of their son's death. On a showing of dependency they could qualify for additional benefits.
H. R. 1315 would add to the benefits, to which the parents have heretofore or may hereafter become entitled, a further award in the amount of $14,430.88. To make such an award in this case would establish a most undesirable precedent with respect to other cases involving service-connected deaths. If this bill were approved, it would be difficult to deny similar awards to the survivors of other servicemen who die under a wide variety of circumstances. To follow such a course would, in my opinion, jeopardize the entire structure of benefits which has been built up for the protection of servicemen's survivors.
I am constrained, therefore, to withhold my approval from H. R. 1315.
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Memorandum of Disapproval of Bill for the Relief of Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Page. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233552