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Mr. Speaker, it was said: From this day to the ending of the world, we in it shall be remembered. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; for he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.
Shakespeare penned this hundreds of years ago in Henry V. It represents the unfailing commitment a warrior has for his fellow warriors.
Since 2004, 36 men and women from the Second Congressional District area of Texas that I represent have served honorably for this country, the United States, and they gave their lives for the cause of freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Their photographs are over here to my left. You notice, Mr. Speaker, they are of all races. They are men and they are women. They are from all branches of the service. They are enlisted personnel and they are officers in the United States military.
I would like to honor each of them today by name and rank and branch of service and a comment or two about each one of them. These are the sons of liberty, the daughters of democracy of America. They are our heroes.
As we approach July 4, the Fourth of July as we like to call it, where America celebrates its independence and we celebrate not only our independence but our freedom and our liberty, we wave the flag, we attend parades and all of those are good things about America. See, it's okay to be a patriot and its okay to show our patriotism as a Nation. But as we approach July 4, that important day in our history, I believe it is equally important that we remember that our freedom and our liberty have always cost America and its cost America its finest, its youth. These men and women, like patriots before them, gave up their youth so that we can have a future.
Patrick Henry, the great orator during the revolutionary times, said: The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, to the active, to the brave.
We are fortunate those words still ring true today, Mr. Speaker, and American warriors overseas carry those values into battle. These are 36 of them, the Roll Call of the Noble 36. Each of them have connections to southeast Texas. I would like to mention each one of them, because they deserve our recognition, but we also need to always remember them and their families. Because, you see, when these young men and women went off to war, their families went to war, too, but their families stayed stateside and they were ever vigilant while their sons and daughters and husbands and wives went overseas.
The first individual here, Mr. Speaker, is Staff Sergeant Russell Slay, United States Marine Corps, from my hometown of Humble, Texas. He was killed at the age of 34. He was killed on November 9, 2004. When Russell told his mother, Peggy Slay, that he was joining the United States Marine Corps after finishing high school, he told her that he knew she would not like it but he was going to do it anyway. And he did. He joined the Marine Corps and he was killed in action. Peggy Slay, his mother, whom I have known since Russell's death, has become very active in the Blue and Gold Star Moms in southeast Texas.
To refresh your memory, Mr. Speaker, a Blue Star Mom is an individual who has a son or daughter overseas and they carry a flag or they have a flag on their window at their home that has a blue star in that flag. Gold Star Moms are those who have lost a son or a daughter overseas in war, and they have a gold star. Peggy Slay is a leader in the Gold Star Moms in southeast Texas.
Next to him is Lance Corporal Wesley Canning, United States Marine Corps. He was 21, and he was killed on November 10, the day after Russell was killed. He is from Friendswood, Texas. He told his dad he always wanted to be a Marine, and he had that ambition to serve as a Marine for 20 years. He was a proud Texan, and when he was home on leave, he bought a new pickup truck so he could show his Marine buddies his new bumper sticker that said Don't Mess with Texas. He was that kind of individual, that loved Texas and loved his country.
The third individual, Lance Corporal Fred Lee Maciel. Fred Maciel, age 20, was killed on January 26, 2005. He was also a member of the United States Marine Corps. He was from Spring, Texas. He was killed in a helicopter crash in al-Anbar province on his way to begin security preparations for the historic Iraqi elections that took place a few days later in January 2005. Four days later, I was in Iraq to witness those successful elections. Lance Corporal Maciel made those first free elections for the Iraqi people possible, and those elections were important for the history of that country. Lance Corporal Maciel was one of those individuals who gave his life so that another country, another people, could have those elections.
The fourth individual that is on this poster board is Private First Class Wesley Riggs of the United States Army. He was killed when he was 19 years of age on May 17, 2005. He was from Baytown, Texas, or Beach City, Texas. Both towns claim him. He graduated in just 3 years from high school, and he loved agriculture.
The fifth individual is Sergeant William Meeuwsen, age 24. Sergeant William Bill Meeuwsen is from Kingwood, Texas, near my area where I live, and he was a member of the United States Army. He went off to Texas A&M University, but he dropped out of school and enlisted in the United States Army because of 9/11. Amazing individuals, these people who left their careers after 9/11 and joined the United States military to protect the rest of us.
Over here on the far left is Lance Corporal Robert Robbie Martinez, United States Marine Corps. He was killed at the age of 20 on December 1, 2005. He was from a small rural community called Cleveland. Cleveland, Texas. He dreamed of getting a degree in education and becoming a baseball coach after his career in the Marines. Today, there is a post office in Cleveland, Texas, named in his honor. When we dedicated the post office for Robbie Martinez in Cleveland, Texas, the whole town turned out for it. In fact, the United States Air Force had a flyover during that ceremony and that dedication. The people of Cleveland loved Robbie Martinez and his family and appreciate his sacrifice for America.
The seventh individual is Staff Sergeant Jerry Michael Durbin, United States Army, from Spring, Texas. He was killed on January 25, 2006, at the age of 27. He's from Houston, Texas, and he was a gifted artist. The day he was killed, he called his wife to tell her he loved her. Shortly thereafter, he was killed in action.
The eighth individual is Tech Sergeant Walter Moss. Tech Sergeant Walter Moss was a member of the United States Air Force. He was 37 years of age, and he was killed on March 30, 2006. He also is from Houston, Texas. He joined the Air Force after high school and he served in Operation Desert Storm.
He specialized in detecting and diffusing makeshift bombs, and he was killed while diffusing an IED. I repeat, he was killed while diffusing an IED. An IED, Mr. Speaker, that is the way that the cowards we fight, fight us. They don't come out in the open--heavens no. They won't do that. They would lose. So they lie in wait in their holes, in their caves, and they put bombs, land mines--IEDs, as we call them--where they know our troops will come by, and then they remotely set those off. Tech Sergeant Walter Moss was an individual that was trained to diffuse those IEDs, but one exploded while he was trying to protect other warriors.
The ninth individual is Private First Class Kristian Menchaca. Kristian Menchaca was a member of the United States Army. He is from Houston, Texas. He was killed at the age of 23 on June 16, 2006. When he joined the United States Army, he wanted to be in the infantry. Kristian's wife said that being in the military was what he always wanted to do. He was kidnapped and tortured and murdered by enemy forces. His murder made national news because of the brutality of the people we fight against after they captured Kristian Menchaca.
Number 10 on this poster is Staff Sergeant Ben Williams of the United States Marine Corps. He was 30 years of age when he was killed on June 20, 2006. He is from Orange, Texas, down in the refinery area of southeast Texas. He joined the United States Marines right after high school, and he served his country for 12 years. He was serving his third duty in Iraq when he was killed on June 20, 2006.
Lance Corporal Ryan Miller, at the age of 19, member of the United States Marine Corps, was killed on September 14, 2006. He was from Pearland, Texas. He was a third-generation Marine. He graduated early so he could enlist and follow in his father's and grandfather's footsteps. After his tour of duty was over, he wanted to become a Houston police officer just like his parents, who are Houston police officers.
Staff Sergeant Edward Reynolds, Jr., United States Army. He was killed at the age of 27 on September 26, 2006, just a few days after Lance Corporal Ryan Miller was killed. He is from Port Arthur, Texas, another refinery area in southeast Texas. He was looking forward to New Year's Eve because that's when he was going to get married. He was a man who, as his fellow warriors say, pushed others to succeed in what they do.
Next is Captain David Fraser, 13th individual on this poster. He was a member of the United States Army. He was killed on November 26, 2006, at the age of 25. He was from Spring, Texas. And you might notice--you can barely see it, but you might notice his uniform, Mr. Speaker. He was a West Point graduate. He wasn't just a regular cadet at West Point. He graduated top student in civil engineering. Captain David Fraser gave his life at the age of 25 for America.
Lance Corporal Luke Yepsen, member of the United States Marine Corps. He was killed on September 14, 2006, and he was from Kingwood, Texas. He was at the age of 20 when he was killed. He also attended Texas A&M University after high school, and he dropped out to enlist in the United States Marine Corps, just like Staff Sergeant Bill Meeuwsen left Texas A&M during school to fight for America.
Specialist Dustin Donica, United States Army. At the age of 22, he was killed on December 28, 2006. He was from Spring, Texas. And when he was asked why he joined the United States Army, here's what he said, Mr. Speaker: Most people in my generation want something for them. I just wanted to give something back. That's why I joined the United States Army.
The 16th individual of our roll call of the Noble 36 is Specialist Ryan Berg. Here is his photograph, Mr. Speaker. He was a member of the United States Army. He was killed at the age of 19. He is from Sabine Pass, Texas. You've probably never heard of that place. Sabine Pass is a very small community. It is on the furthest southeastern point of Texas, right next to Louisiana. He joined the Army on his 18th birthday, and he was the first soldier from Sabine Pass to be killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Staff Sergeant Terrance Dunn, United States Army. Here is his photograph. At the age of 38, he was killed on February 2, 2007. He was from Atascocita, Texas. He enlisted in the Army several years after high school, and to his fellow soldiers he was known as Dunnaman because he could get anything done.
Next is Lance Corporal Anthony Aguirre. He was a member of the United States Marine Corps, and at the age of 20 he was killed on February 22, 2007. He was from Channelview, Texas. He entered the United States Marine Corps because he believed, like a lot of other people believe, it was the toughest branch of the military. You've got to love those Marines, Mr. Speaker.
Over here we have Private First Class Brandon Bobb, United States Army. He, likewise, was from Port Arthur,
Texas, and he was killed at the age of 20 on July 17, 2007. He was always cheerful and was a soldier that others looked to for support and to lend a helping hand. He was always thinking about somebody else other than himself, according to his buddies in the military.
Number 20, Private First Class Zachary Endsley, United States Army, age 21, killed on July 23, 2007, from Spring, Texas. You might notice, Mr. Speaker, there's a pattern here--18-, 19-, 20- and 21-year-olds. America's youth go to war to represent the rest of us. But Zach was an appreciator of the arts. He enjoyed drawing and playing his guitar. It was his drawing ability that stood out. In high school, he entered and won a poster contest with his design, but after he joined the Army he was killed at the age of 21.
Number 21, Army Specialist Kamisha Block. She was a member of the United States Army. Kamisha Block was 20 years old when she was killed. She was from Vidor, Texas, and she was killed on August 16, 2007. Kamisha's best friend, Amanda Buck, they grew up together. And Amanda says: We rode the school bus together from kindergarten all the way through high school. She said Kamisha knew where she was headed in life. She had a big heart and wanted to help people, and that's why she joined the United States Army.
Number 22, Specialist Donald Valentine III, United States Army, 21 years of age. He was killed September 18, 2007. He was from Houston, Texas. In the official statement on Donald's death, here's what the family said: Donald touched the lives of so many with his big heart. We will cherish those beautiful memories we shared with him. He made us very proud. Now heaven has another hero that continues to watch over us as an angel in heaven. Remarkable person, Specialist Donald Valentine III.
Number 23 is Lance Corporal Jeremy Burris, United States Marine, age 22, killed in action on October 8, 2007. He is from Liberty, Texas. Liberty, Texas, according to the folks in Liberty, they claim that is the first settlement in Texas, before Texas was even a part of the United States or even a republic. Liberty, Texas. An interesting town for a warrior to be from. He was an unapologetic person of religious faith, and he attended the nondenominational Cornerstone Church, where he led worship and praise services. He loved Texas, and his church pastor said at the funeral, No one had better say anything negative about his home State of Texas.
Mr. Speaker, you got to love those Texas boys. They love our State. They love America.
Number 24 is Staff Sergeant Eric Duckworth. He is the last photograph on this row, Mr. Speaker. He was a member of the United States Army. He was killed at the age of 26 on October 10, 2007. He was from Houston, Texas. His father, Michael, described him as an outgoing and good-humored son. He further said, Eric was full of love and laughter and a godly spirit, but, above all, he was a true soldier and a proud warrior for the United States.
Number 25, Corporal Scott McIntosh. He was a member of the United States Army. He was killed at the age of 26 on March 10, 2008. He was from Humble, Texas, my hometown. His mission in life was to meet and make friends with every person he came in contact with. He shared his hearty laugh and always had a smile to give to other people that he came across. Scott always had a positive outlook on life. He loved to hunt and fish, but most of all he loved his family, the Army and the country he lived in and his life.
Staff Sergeant Shawn Tousha, number 26 on this poster, Mr. Speaker. He was a member of the United States Army. He was killed at the age of 30 on April 9, 2008. He was from a little small town called Hull, Texas. As a teenager, Shawn played football, and like most Texas rural boys, he loved it. He played at Hull-Daisetta High School. He liked to ride horses. He considered himself a cowboy. He liked to bull ride. He was a man from small town America, and he had a playful heart. He made a big impression on everybody that he knew growing up, and that was a positive impression.
Number 27 on here, Lieutenant Colonel Mark Stratton II. Lieutenant Colonel Mark Stratton is the highest ranking officer that has been killed from our congressional district area. He was a member of the United States Air Force. At the age of 39, he was killed on May 26, 2009. He was from Houston, Texas. He was remembered by his friends as a man of unquestionable character and total loyalty to the people he loved. He was a patriotic American who exemplified the very best that American airmen have to offer.
Number 28, this individual with the big grin on his face, Specialist Jarrett Griemel, United States Army. He was killed on June 3, 2009, at the age of 20. He was also from a little small town, La Porte, Texas. Jarrett was a member of the swim team and the surf club while he was in high school. He loved the outdoors and he, of course, loved the beach and the surf which were nearby in La Porte. He spent his spare time parachuting and cliff diving. Jarrett lived his life to the fullest, but like the others I have mentioned, he loved America, and he loved to excel and do what he could do to be all that he could be. He loved his family, and his family says that they will forever cherish the memories that he gave them because he touched every one of their lives.
Over here to the far left, Jeffrey Johnson was a member of the United States Marine Corps, age 21 when he was killed on May 11, 2010, from Tomball, Texas. At Corporal Jeffrey Johnson's funeral, his family remembered him as a son, a grandson, a brother and a hero. His vehicle commander said Johnson was different from most of the fellow Marines because, to sum up his commander, war is sheer misery, and the four of us in that truck, because of Jeff and his humor, were uplifted all the time. Corporal Johnson touched everybody and the lives that they lived with his life.
The 30th individual is this sailor over here on the far portion of this poster, Petty Officer Zarian Wood, who went by Z, a member of the United States Navy. He was from Houston. He was 29 years of age when he was killed in combat, and he was on his second tour of duty when he was killed. He graduated from South Houston High School in 1999 and after graduation he worked as a youth pastor and tutored children. He enlisted in the Navy in 2006 and was on his second tour of duty when he was killed in combat.
The last group of individuals are the most recent individuals. All of these people, all of these individuals are put on this poster in the order of their death in Iraq or Afghanistan. In my office here in Washington, in my offices in Humble and in Beaumont, Texas, we have larger photographs of all of these individuals. And you will notice, Mr. Speaker, as you go through the Halls of Congress and the offices of the House, you will see many such posters as this listing those who have given their lives for America in the war in Iraq.
But next on this list is Sergeant Brandon Bury. He was a member of the United States Marine Corps. He was killed at the age of 26 on June 6, 2010--June 6th, D-day. He was killed on the anniversary date of D-day. He was from Kingwood, Texas. He was a big guy. He was 6 feet 6 and he was all Marine. He was an impressive individual, and his friends say even back in middle school he knew what he wanted to do--he wanted to be a member of the United States Marine Corps.
Next to him, number 32, Specialist Matthew Catlett, United States Army. At the age of 23 years, he was killed on June 7, the very next day after Sergeant Brandon Bury was killed. He was from Houston, Texas, and he fought for liberty. He fought for a people that he did not know in a land where he had never been. He was an American, that rare breed that gave his life for people far, far away and for Americans in this land.
Staff Sergeant Edwardo Loredo, 34 years of age, a member of the United States Army, he was killed one day shy of his 35th birthday. He was from Houston, Texas, killed on June 24, 2010. His family says Edwardo was an adventurer. He adored his wife and his family, and he loved to cook for his neighbors and his family. Mr. Speaker, we are blessed to have such a rare breed of people as Staff Sergeant Edwardo Loredo and his fellow patriots and warriors.
Number 34, Staff Sergeant Jesse Ainsworth, a member of the United States Army, 24 years of age, killed on July 10, 2010, from Dayton, Texas, another small town in southeast Texas. Jesse's mother, Margaret Ainsworth, said Jesse was her hero, and he was her only son. She said she used to pick him up when he was a little kid from kindergarten, and every Friday they would go to Wal-Mart and buy some toy. She said ever since Jesse was an itty bitty fellow he wanted to be a soldier in the United States Army, and he gave his life when he was 24 years of age for the rest of us.
Number 35 on this poster of the Noble 36 is Staff Sergeant Leston Tony Winters, United States Army, 30 years of age when he was killed on July 15, 2010. He was from Sour Lake, Texas. Once again, small town rural America. In 1998 he graduated from Hardin Jefferson High School. Winters had already completed two tours of duty in Iraq and decided in February of 2010 to leave his job and return to battle once more. He told his family that he felt compelled to be there with his buddies, even though he had a chance to stay home in Texas. He left behind after his death his wife, Elizabeth, and their three children, Jonathan, Remington, and Emma.
Sergeant First Class Calvin B. Harrison, this individual over here in the bottom right-hand corner, he was killed at the age of 31 and he, like several of the others I mentioned, was from Cleveland, Texas. He was killed on September 29, 2010. After he graduated from high school in 1998, he enlisted in the Army, following the path of his grandfather. His family said that he loved being a soldier and serving his country. He is survived by his two daughters, Azalia and Eleanna.
It's interesting about his funeral, Mr. Speaker, which I attended. The whole town of Cleveland, Texas, and nearby towns turned out for the funeral. Flags were strewn and hoisted all up and down Main Street in Cleveland, Texas. The businesses shut down, the school closed as the funeral procession came through Cleveland, Texas, honoring Sergeant First Class Calvin Harrison; that funeral ceremony and processional with hundreds of people, young and old, showing praise and honor and respect to Calvin Harrison for his sacrifice for America.
It was led by the Patriot Guard, those patriots that ride the Harley-Davidson motorcycles, most of them from the Vietnam era, who show their appreciation for the sacrifice by watching over the funeral procession and the funeral by riding those motorcycles with an American flag on the back.
These are the Noble 36 from southeast Texas, just a few of the people who have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. I mention these individuals because they, like all Americans that have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, are important to America. They are important to our history because freedom is not free.
And that is not a trite expression. It's not free. It has always been expensive, going all the way back to the Revolutionary War. We're going to celebrate July 4th next week. And that war cost American lives, as has every war, because freedom is expensive. And it's our young people, men and women, who go and serve.
Mr. Speaker, just like everybody serving today in Iraq and Afghanistan, every one of these people--every one--volunteered. They raised their right hand and they stood forward and said, I will serve. I will go. Call me. And they went. And we are to admire them for what they have done. They have gone down into the valley of the gun and the desert of the sun, and they have sacrificed their lives.
Last week, I happened to be in Iraq with other Members of Congress. It's not even summer yet in Iraq. But we got off that Blackhawk helicopter and it was 120 degrees in Iraq. And there they were, the American warriors, with their warrior uniforms on and all that equipment they carry. How hot they were. It was 120 degrees. In Afghanistan and Iraq it gets hot in the summer. And those days are coming. We should always appreciate them.
We should also appreciate the ones that serve in other places in the world. On that same trip, Members of Congress had an opportunity to go near the South China Sea and see some of our warriors on some island I'm not sure I could find on a map. But they're on this remote island, our Navy SEALs, our special forces, our marines, and our soldiers. They were doing an operation protecting the United States, representing the rest of us.
So we should be proud of those that go and serve; those that volunteer and those that are still there. We should appreciate the families that have stayed home while their loved ones go across the seas and represent this country. July 4th is coming up. It's a great day in our history. I hope Americans fly the flag. I hope Americans tell their kids about our country and our history. We should tell American children about these young people and others who every day raise their right hand and go off to war representing the rest of us.
One of our former Presidents once said, I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives, and I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him. All of these were proud of America and America is proud of all of them and the rest that continue to serve. These Noble 36, we are proud of them.
Mr. Speaker, these are the few, the bold, the brave, the courageous. These are the Americans. These are the sons and daughters of southeast Texas who have fallen in battle for their country. We are forever grateful for their sacrifice, and we are grateful for every man and woman in uniform somewhere in the world today representing the rest of us.
And that's just the way it is.