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Madam Speaker, it's been solemnly said that "the story of America's quest for freedom is inscribed on her history in the blood of her patriots." Those comments were made by Randy Vader.
America was born of war and has always had to fight to keep liberty's light shining very bright.
Monday is Memorial Day. We honor those of the military family who went somewhere in the world, fighting for America's ideals and protecting the rest of us, but did not return home. Their blood has stained and sanctified the lands of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, the Pacific Islands, the soil of America and places known only by God.
One of those warriors was Frank Luke. Madam Speaker, you may have never heard of him, but he is just one of the 4.4 million doughboys that went over there in World War I. He's an example of the young, tenacious American warrior.
This is a photograph of him taken shortly before his death in 1918. In World War I, in September of 1918, in just 9 days of combat flying, 10 missions, and only 30 hours of flight time, Second Lieutenant Frank Luke shot down 18 enemy aircraft. Let me repeat. Eighteen enemy aircraft.
On his last patrol, though pursued by eight German planes, without hesitation he attacked and shot down in flames three German aircraft, being himself under heavy fire from ground batteries and hostile planes. Severely wounded, he descended within 50 meters of the ground and, flying at this low altitude in France, opened fire on enemy troops, killing six and wounding many more. Forced to make a landing, and surrounded on all sides by the enemy, he drew his automatic pistol, defended himself gallantly until he fell dead with a wound in the chest.
Frank Luke was 20 years of age. He had been in Europe less than 30 days. He won the Congressional Medal of Honor, and he was the first aviator in United States history to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was one of the 116,000 doughboys who died in the War to End All Wars that did not return home.
Author Blaine Pardoe referred to him as the ``terror of the autumn skies.''
That was 90 years ago. It has always been the young that give their youth so we can have a future. And we should always remember every one of them, every one that died in all of America's wars.
Now we are engaged in a war in the valley of the sun and the deserts of the gun, in Iraq, and the rugged, cruel, rough mountains of Afghanistan.
My congressional district area of southeast Texas has lost 26 warriors since I have been in Congress. Here they are, Madam Speaker. You notice they represent a cross section of the United States. They are all races. They're of both sexes. They are of all ages, and they're from all branches of the service. They're from big cities like Houston, Texas, and small towns like Hull, Sabine Pass, Beach City, Humble, Groves; yet, they're all American warriors who gave their lives in combat for the United States.
I will place the names and backgrounds of these 26 from the Second Congressional District of Texas who have been killed in Iraq into the Congressional Record.
Rollcall of the Dead
Russell Slay, a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, from Humble, TX. Russell played the guitar and he and his buddies started a band while in Iraq called the Texas Trio.
Wesley J. Canning, a Lance Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps, from Friendswood, TX. Wesley had a quick smile, a captivating personality, and loved wearing his Marine Corps T-shirt to class his senior year of high school.
Fred Lee Maciel, a Lance Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps, from Spring, TX. He is remembered as an athlete, a leader in the school's Naval Junior ROTC, and a role model for other students.
Wesley R. Riggs, a PFC in the U.S. Army, from Beach City, TX. Wesley liked four-wheeling and camping. He was also a member of the Houston Olympic weight lifting team.
William B. Meeuwsen, a Sergeant in the U.S. Army, from Kingwood, TX. Bill strongly believed that we all share a responsibility to serve on behalf of God and country, to protect freedoms we all cherish so deeply.
Robert A. Martinez, a Lance Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps, from Cleveland, TX. Robert was a baseball pitcher at Cleveland High and dreamed of getting his degree in education and becoming a baseball coach.
Jerry Michael Durbin, a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army, from Spring, TX. He was a gifted artist with a special talent for original cartoon characters and superheroes. He actually designed his platoon's boot camp T-shirt when he entered the Army.
Walter M. Moss Jr., a Tech. Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, from Houston, TX. After 16 years of military service, Walter had a reputation for excellence. Even though he was in the Air Force, the Navy and Marines honored him with the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and he was also awarded the Bronze Star with Valor and the Purple Heart.
Kristian Menchaca, a PFC in the U.S. Army, from Houston, TX. Kristian joined the United States Army with the goal of using his military experience to become a Border Patrol agent.
Benjamin D. Williams, a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, from Orange, TX. Benjamin played football in high school and as soon as he graduated, he joined the United States Marine Corps.
Ryan A. Miller, a Lance Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps, from Pearland, TX. Ryan was so committed to a future defending others, he graduated from high school early just so he could enlist into the United States Marine Corps and follow in the footsteps of Dad and Granddad.
Edward Reynolds, Jr., a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army, from Groves, TX. Friends knew Edward as the man that kept them out of trouble, pushing them to succeed in life.
West Point Graduate Michael Fraser, a Captain in the U.S. Army, from Houston, TX. Twice, Michael led his high school cross-country team to qualify for the Texas State cross-country meet.
Luke Yepsen, a Lance Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps, from Kingwood, TX. He was a graduate of Kingwood High School, and he was known for his big heart and ability to live life to its fullest.
Dustin R. Donica, a Specialist in the U.S. Army, from Spring, TX. Dustin loved to joke around with his family and his friends, and he was known by many for his unique sense of humor.
Ryan R. Berg, a Specialist in the U.S. Army, from Sabine Pass, TX. Ryan knew his calling after high school was to join the United States Army. He wanted to protect his country, like he had protected those he knew and loved all his life.
Terrance D. Dunn, a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army, from Houston, TX. Terrance was known as ``Dunnaman'' to his fellow soldiers. If something needed to be done, Dunnaman did it, and it was given to him to do because they could always count on him to get the job done.
Anthony Aguirre, a Lance Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps, from Houston, TX. During Anthony's senior year in high school, he achieved the rank of cadet captain. Even after graduation, Anthony stopped by the high school often to proudly talk with the Junior ROTC cadets about the Marines.
Brandon Bobb, a PFC in the U.S. Army, from Port Arthur, TX. Brandon thought that being a military police officer in the Army was the best job in the world.
Zachary Endsley, a PFC in the U.S. Army, from Spring, TX. Zachery enjoyed drawing and playing his guitar. He was so good at drawing he won several competitions while in high school.
Kamisha Block, a Specialist in the U.S. Army, from Vidor, TX. Friends say that Kamisha always knew where she was headed in life, that she had a big heart and genuinely wanted to help make other people's lives better.
It has been said that wars may be fought by weapons, but they are won by warriors. it is the spirit of the men who follow and the man who lead that gains the victory. That was said by General George S. Patton junior near the end ofWorld War II.
These nobel 26 are some of the 4,962 that have been killed in the line of duty in America's current wars in the Middle East. Madam Speaker, this is aphotograph of the cliffs of Normandy. This is in Normandy, France, 9,4737 Americans are buried, most of them young kids. they liberated to save France.They never came home. The guns have long since been silent on Normandy shores, but the sands are still stained of the blood of the fallen soldiers.
On the 40th anniversary of D-Day, president Ronald Reagan stood at this cemetery and said, we will always remember, we will always be proud, we will always be prepared so we may always be free. So Madam Speaker, when the sun comes up Monday morning, we should fly the flag, stand outside, look to the heavens and thank those who took care of America in the long dark night of the hour of war.
And that's just the way it is.
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