Videos & Speeches
Jun 08 2012
Madam President, last week on Memorial Day, Americans remembered our Nation's fallen troops who laid down their lives for our Nation. We are blessed to live in a country where individuals volunteer to defend our Nation and our freedoms--no matter the cost. Because of the sacrifices of our Nation's veterans, we have the opportunity to live in the strongest, freest, and greatest Nation on Earth.
Today at Arlington National Cemetery, 30 U.S. servicemembers will be honored for their service and sacrifice to our country. These men were killed last August when insurgents fired upon their helicopter as it was rushing to aid troops in a firefight in Wardak Province in Afghanistan. More than 20 U.S. special operations forces were killed when the helicopter crashed--the deadliest single loss of American forces in the war in Afghanistan.
Among those lost were brave soldiers who called Kansas home: CWO Bryan Nichols of Hays, SPC Spencer Duncan of Olathe, and SGT Alexander Bennett of Tacoma, WA, who was stationed in New Century, KS. These men will be given full honors during a special memorial service and laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.
We lost 30 American heroes on that tragic day--brave men who answered the call to defend our country. Our Nation is forever indebted to these young men for their service and sacrifice. Especially today, we think of their families and the loved ones they left behind. May God comfort them in their time of grief and be a source of strength for them.
Yesterday, in Kansas, another soldier's life was remembered. PFC Cale Miller of Olathe was killed just 2 weeks ago during a combat mission in Afghanistan when the vehicle he was driving was struck by an improvised explosive device.
It has been said that the ``American soldier does not fight because he hates who is in front of him, he fights because he loves those who are behind him.'' This passage was read during Cale's service in Olathe, and it is a fitting description of this young man's devotion to his country.
Cale was raised in Olathe and was a 2007 graduate of Olathe Northwest High School, where he was a member of the football and track teams and played trumpet in the marching and jazz bands. Three years after graduation, Cale joined the Army and was assigned to Ft. Lewis in Washington State.
Cale was known as a fierce warrior on the battlefield and was one of ``the best of the best.'' Among his buddies he had a reputation for being a hard worker, someone who would go above and beyond to accomplish the task at hand. Cale's battalion commander said he was known as ``everyone's protector'' and was ``hands down, the best Stryker driver he ever had seen.''
More importantly, his sergeant said Cale had the unique ability of knowing the right thing to say at the right moment. He was a source of strength that pulled his sergeant and his squad mates through many difficult days.
Cale loved the Army, but he was also devoted to his family. He loved to laugh and had a great sense of humor, which helped his family find the bright side of every situation. His stepfather Dave is known for giving sound and practical advice and served as a role model for Cale. In fact, Cale once told his mom he was turning into the ``Dave'' for his buddies since they often turned to him for advice or encouragement. Cale had a close relationship with his sister Courtney and loved his mother deeply. He spoke of her often to his buddies.
My heart goes out to the entire Miller family, and I ask that all Kansans, all Americans, join me in remembering them in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
On Monday, Cale was given a hero's welcome upon his return to Kansas. Volunteers placed flags along 151st Street in Olathe and hundreds of people stood in silence waving those flags and signs that read ``Community 4 Cale'' to honor this young man and his service to our country. This demonstration of support comes naturally to Kansans who respect and honor those who volunteer to defend and serve our Nation.
Today we honor Cale Miller, Brian Nichols, Spencer Duncan, and Alexander Bennett, who laid down their lives for our country. We thank God for giving us these heroes, and we remain committed to preserving this Nation for the sake of the next generation so they, too, can pursue the American dream with freedom and liberty. We are indebted to our veterans to do nothing less.
May God bless our service men and women, our veterans, and the country we all love.
I yield the floor.