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AgLifeNW Magazine, August issue, David Carman testifies on behalf of Klamath Basin Veteran Homesteaders for Field Hearing July 17, 2004
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David Carman, Tulelake homesteader

Mr. Chairman and members of the committee:

My name is David Carman and I am a World War II Combat Veteran and Homesteader. My presence here today is to represent the Veteran Homesteaders. I would like to begin my testimony with an excerpt from Americans at War by Stephen Ambrose: "From beginning to end the Japanese-American war in the Pacific was waged with a barbarism and race hatred that was staggering in scope, savage almost beyond belief, and catastrophic in consequence. Each side regarded the other as subhuman vermin. They called each other beasts, roaches, rats, monkeys and worse. Atrocities abounded, committed by individuals, by units, by entire armies, by governments. Quarter was neither asked, nor given. It was a descent into hell."

I was born in 1918 in Los Angeles, California. I joined the United States Army in 1941. When Pearl Harbor was attacked I was stationed at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. As a 1st Lieutenant of the 7th Amphibious Infantry Division our first amphibious landing was the Aleutian Islands. This was followed by Kwajalein Island where we engaged approximately 5 thousand enemy soldiers. We landed on February 1st and by the next evening the operation was complete. We took no prisoners. Our next amphibious landing was Leyte Island during the re-taking of the Philippines where General MacArthur made his famous remark, "I have returned".

The life expectancy of a lieutenant infantryman was seven and a half minutes. I lost all my best friends. I survived, why I donít know, we donít know those things.

After 4 years and 8 months of service I came home with the rank of a 1st Lieutenant. When I heard about a homesteading opportunity in Tulelake, California I applied. In 1948 I was one of 44 applicants chosen out of 2000. At the time I had never heard of Tulelake except as a great hunting area. When I arrived to see my homestead there was nothing there, just an expanse of opportunity. No roads, no houses, no trees, just bare ground. I then pitched my tent in the corner of my homestead. My wife Eleanor was expecting our second child, but could not join me until later. A tent was not acceptable living quarters for a young woman, a small child and another baby on the way.

When I began my new life as a Tulelake homesteader there were approximately 300 homesteaders, most of them with families. We united and began to build schools, churches and a hospital in Klamath Falls. We started a community. We were living the American dream and our dream was achieved by hard work and dedication, and I must say we could never have done this without our wives.

In 1957 we formed our own irrigation district taking over from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. In 1967 we paid off our portion of the Klamath Project debt to the federal government and the irrigation district became totally ours.

In closing, I want to say we fulfilled the American dream and in 2001 the Endangered Species Act came very close to destroying our dream. Our dream was changed into a nightmare. We now know that the water cut-off was not justified.

In my hand I have a patent for a homesteader signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt given to a veteran of World War I. This document guarantees the right to use water from the Klamath Reclamation Project by a homesteader and his heirs forever. I would like to remind everyone that our children learned farming from us. They are homesteaders in the same regard just as we were after World War II.

Our community has become the poster child of abuse by the Endangered Species Act. I respectfully request that the members of this congressional committee never allow us to be betrayed by an Act that has become a tool to destroy rural America.

 

 

 

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