Carter bill renames the Hinesville VA Clinic after local heroes went to Biden’s desk: U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter

WASHINGTON, DC – A bill to rename the Department of Veterans Affairs community outpatient clinic in Hinesville, Georgia as the “John Gibson, Dan James, William Sapp and Frankie Smiley VA Clinic,” championed by Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R -GA) and supported by every member of the Georgia Congressional Delegation, passed the Senate today and heads to President Biden’s desk for final passage.

H.R. 593 honors four Liberty County heroes who courageously made the ultimate sacrifice in the Vietnam War and is the result of a community-led effort to get these veterans the recognition they deserve.

“I am thrilled that the Senate acted on this bill, which honors the brave young men who gave their all in defense of our freedoms during the Vietnam War. I would like to thank the community members who brought this important issue to my attention. This would not have been possible without their advocacy. John Gibson, Dan James, William Sapp and Frankie Smiley had bright futures ahead of them, and this VA center will now bear their names as a reminder that freedom is not free. I urge the President to quickly sign this bill, and I extend my sincere gratitude to all the veterans who are heroically serving our nation.” said Rep. Buddy Carter.

Representative Carter made the following remarks, as prepared for presentation, in the House of Representatives, advocating for passage of the bill in November 2023:

“I have the honor and privilege of representing Georgia’s First Congressional District. We have a lot to be proud of in Georgia’s First Congressional District. We have a strong military presence in our district. We are home to Hunter Army Airfield, King’s Bay Naval Base and Ft. Steward.

“Ft. Stewart is located in Hinesville, Georgia, in Liberty County. Every time I go to Ft. Stewart, whenever I travel to Liberty County, I know they know what they are talking about when they talk about military matters. I would like to tell you that the community of Hinesville, Georgia supports their military as much, if not more, than any community in America.

‘But I have to be very honest with you. Last fall I was called to a meeting with some community leaders in Liberty County and they told me they wanted to name a VA clinic in Hinesville after four veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam War.

“When I attended that meeting, I was skeptical. “We can’t do that. We can’t rename a VA clinic anyway, let alone after four people.”

“I have to tell you that when I left that meeting, I was not only convinced, but determined to make this happen.

“You heard the biographies that Chairman Bost just read about these young men, all in their twenties, all with their lives in front of them, all making the ultimate sacrifice.

“Think about what they could have experienced in their lives – children, graduations, family memories – but they gave their lives. All four gave their lives so that we can enjoy the freedoms we enjoy in this country.

“I attended that meeting that day and listened to the families. I listened to the friends tell the stories of their loved ones. I was convinced this had to be done.

“(E)ach of them has made an incredible sacrifice on behalf of their country and on behalf of their community.

“They serve as righteous examples of patriotism and selflessness who deserve to be permanently commemorated by naming the Hinesville Clinic in their honor.

“This effort is supported by the families and by the community. We believe that all four deserve to be remembered for their extraordinary sacrifice and courage.

“I want to thank the community members in Liberty County and Hinesville and the local elected officials who brought this idea to our attention.

“Second, I would also like to thank the Disabled Veterans of America Southeast Georgia Chapter, The American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Georgia State Department of Veterans Affairs for their support.

“Last but not least, I want to thank the entire Georgia delegation, Republican and Democratic, the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and all the staff involved for their dedicated work to bring this bill to the table.

“I urge my colleagues to support this bill and I look forward to working with my friends in the Senate to get this piece of legislation passed and signed.

“Mr. Speaker, last weekend we celebrated Veterans Day. These four were not with us to celebrate Veterans Day, but what they did gave us the opportunity to celebrate Veterans Day. Let us at least do this for the family, in memory of these four heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Read the full text of the bill here.


John Gibson was born on September 12, 1946 in Riceboro, Georgia. He joined the United States Marine Corps and rose to the rank of Private First Class. Mr. Gibson arrived in Vietnam on October 12, 1967 on the 1st Marine Division, and was killed by small arms fire during the Tet Offensive on February 7, 1968. He was only twenty-one years old.

Then James was born on March 20, 1948 in Riceboro, Georgia. He was drafted into the U.S. Army and shipped to Vietnam in September 1968. While with his unit in the 25e Infantry Division, he was killed by small arms fire on December 29, 1968. He was only twenty years old.

Willem Sapp was born on March 12, 1943 in Hinesville, Georgia. He was drafted into the U.S. Army and shipped to Vietnam in November 1967. While he was in the country with his unit, the 4e Infantry Division, he was killed on June 7, 1968 by multiple fragmentation wounds. He was only twenty-five years old.

Frankie Lee Smiley was born on May 18, 1944 in Liberty County, Georgia. He joined the United States Marine Corps and rose to the rank of Lance Corporal. He arrived in Vietnam in January 1968 on the 1st Marine Division and was killed by small arms fire on August 25e1968. He was only twenty-four years old.