HONORING OUR FALLEN HEROES
(House of Representatives - November 13, 2007)

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[Pages H13839-H13841]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                              {time}  2145
                       HONORING OUR FALLEN HEROES

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Perlmutter). Under the Speaker's 
announced policy of January 18, 2007, the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. 
Donnelly) is recognized for 27 minutes as the designee of the majority 
leader.
  Mr. DONNELLY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor all those men and 
women whose service and sacrifice preserve and protect the foundation 
of liberty that has made this Nation great. They come from all walks of 
life, and yet they are unified by their willingness to risk their very 
lives in service to America. They are America's veterans.
  It is often said that we owe a great debt to our veterans, which is 
true; but that debt can never be fully repaid. What is the value of our 
freedom and how can the sacrifice of a person's life be measured out 
and counted? It is altogether fitting and proper that we thank veterans 
and that we honor them with their own holiday. But such honor and 
gratitude toward our veterans should be a permanent part of our 
everyday lives.
  Mr. Speaker, I cannot speak of every veteran in every war to whom 
great thanks and honor are owed, but I can speak of those nearest to me 
and to my home of Indiana.
  Since the commencement of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 23 
soldiers, marines, and airmen from Indiana's Second Congressional 
District have fallen in service to their country. The names of the 
first 15 will remain with us forever: Specialist Brian Clemens; Private 
Robert McKinley; Sergeant Craig Boling; Staff Sergeant Mark Lawton; 
Specialist Michael Wiesemann; Sergeant David M. Heath; Lance Corporal 
James Swain; Staff Sergeant Marvin Lee Trost, III; Sergeant Paul M. 
Heltzel; Specialist Jeffrey Corban; Sergeant Rickey E. Jones; Corporal 
Aaron L. Seal; Private Nathan J. Frigo; Sergeant Kraig Foyteck; 
Sergeant Major Jeff A. McLochlin.
  Each of these patriots is missed. Their families and hometowns will 
never forget them, and our country will be forever in their debt.
  While 15 young men and women have died in the service of their 
country from 2003 through 2006, I have had the tragic duty of 
comforting the families of eight more fine young men in just this past 
year.
  In memory of those eight heroic individuals and in honor of their 
sacrifice, I would like to share with this body and with the American 
people just a little bit about each of these great Hoosiers.
  On February 18, Private Kelly Youngblood was killed by a sniper's 
bullet in Ramadi, Iraq. Although he lived in Mesa, Arizona, at the 
time, I believe Kelly's early years growing up in Westville, Indiana, 
and his grandparents continued residence there, made him a son of our 
beloved State.
  After graduating from high school, Kelly set his sights on military 
service. His lifelong dream was to serve his country in the military; 
and shortly after his 18th birthday, Kelly achieved that dream by 
enlisting in the Army. Following basic training, Kelly was sent to Iraq 
as a member of the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade 
Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. He is survived by his mother

[[Page H13840]]

Kristen and sister Melaney, and his grandparents, my good friends, 
Charlie and Jean Herrold of Westville, Indiana, and many, many friends 
all around the country.
  Kelly was known as a loving and kind young man with an excellent 
sense of humor. His grandmother told the local paper: ``That young man 
was so much fun. He made a joke out of everything.'' His grandparents 
will always remember his last Christmas when he worshipped at the 
Westville United Methodist Church with them. As a soldier about to 
enter combat, we can be assured that Kelly prayed for peace in Iraq, 
for his fellow soldiers, and for his country. His loss will long, long 
be felt among the many people who loved him.
  Less than 2 months later on April 8, Army Private David Neil Simmons 
of Kokomo was killed when his convoy was ambushed and his Bradley 
Fighting Vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device. This loss 
hit home because Neil was the kind of young man that everybody in 
Kokomo loved. With his big smile and his enthusiasm, he made life 
enjoyable for everyone around him. As one who deeply loved his family 
and knew what it meant to be a great friend, he made life better for 
everyone.
  He was a grateful man, returning to his high school often to visit 
friends and to thank teachers and other mentors for their impact on his 
life. During one of those visits just a couple of weeks before he was 
set to deploy to Iraq, he ran into Ms. Lovelace, a secretary at 
Northwestern High School where David went to school. When Janet gave 
David Neil a hug and thanked him for his service, he became teary-eyed.
  Upon hearing about his son's death, Neil's dad David said, ``Freedom 
is very expensive. You don't know how expensive until something like 
this happens. My heart goes out to all the families that have to go 
through this.''

  In the midst of so much sorrow, Neil's dad David remembered all of 
the other families and that is truly remarkable and it serves as an 
example to all of us who might become self-absorbed in times of 
trouble.
  I was privileged to speak many times with Neil's mom, Teri Tenbrook. 
Her courage and resolve during so tragic a time impressed me 
considerably. She is a wonderful mom and a wonderful example for all of 
us.
  Only 4 days after the loss of Neil, Corporal Jason Beadles of La 
Porte died on behalf of his country while fortifying a base in Baghdad. 
Jason loved Johnny Cash, and he loved country music. He loved taking 
his nieces and nephews swimming. He loved fooling around with them and 
playing games with his brothers and cousins in the backyard. Like many 
Hoosiers, he loved motorcycles and he hoped to eventually turn this 
passion into a career. In many, many ways Jason always was, as his 
parents said, a big child at heart.
  But Jason also loved his country. Moved by the events of 9/11 and 
inspired by his dad and grandfather who had served before him, his 
brothers and uncles, Jason joined the Army. This lovable big guy became 
an honorable young man. He became one of America's soldiers. And as one 
of his friends in the Army said, one of the finest things you could say 
about Jason, he smiled, laughed and said, ``Jason was just Beadles.'' 
What a wonderful young guy.
  Hoosiers lost another honorable young man when Air Force Technical 
Sergeant Ryan Balmer, native son of Mishawaka, was killed on June 5 in 
Kirkuk, Iraq, when his Humvee, leading a three-vehicle convoy, was hit 
by an improvised explosive device.
  Ryan was stationed at Hill Air Force Base in Utah where he lived with 
his wife, Danielle, and their two children, Anthony and Gabby. His 
family, including his mom, Patricia, was anticipating his scheduled 
arrival home five days later when they were informed of his death.
  Danielle had made posters, buttons and banners to welcome Ryan home. 
He was this close to his last day in Iraq. They had planned to line the 
road to the house with American flags. She had made a shirt for Gabby 
that read, ``My daddy is finally home.'' Sadly, Danielle saw the Air 
Force uniformed officers come to her house first. They included Ryan's 
saddened commanding officer. She learned that her beloved husband was 
not coming home. According to Danielle, ``Ryan died doing what he 
loved,'' serving the country he was so devoted to.
  Shortly after graduation from Mishawaka High School, Ryan joined the 
Air Force where he became part of the Office of Special Investigations. 
His mission was to help identify, investigate and neutralize criminal 
terrorists and espionage threats. It is one of the most dangerous 
assignments in the United States Air Force. At the time of his death, 
he was serving as a liaison between the Iraqi police and the U.S. 
military officials in Kirkuk. His commander, General Dana Simmons, 
called him a warrior who made the ultimate sacrifice in his brave 
performance of duty.
  In honor of Ryan, American Legion Post 161 in Mishawaka just this 
past Sunday rededicated itself on Veterans Day as Ryan A. Balmer Post 
161. I was privileged to attend this wonderful tribute to such a fine 
young man with Danielle and Pat and the rest of the Balmer family.
  On June 18 of this year, the wonderful city of Elkhart lost one of 
their native sons when Specialist David Wilkey, Jr., died of wounds 
suffered while he patrolled the streets of Baghdad. David grew up in 
the wilderness of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. He loved the outdoors, 
and as his step-mom, Margaret, put it, ``His passion was nature. If he 
had to pick where he was going to live, he would have picked a cabin in 
the middle of the woods with a pond nearby.'' The pond was for fishing, 
for David loved to both hunt and to fish.
  As much as he loved the woods, though, he loved his family even more. 
From his niece whose eyes got big whenever he arrived, to his aunt who 
misses his smile and wink most of all, family was at the heart of 
David's life.
  According to his wife, Melinda, he wanted a big family and he was a 
wonderful family man. He married Melinda in December 2005. His dream of 
a big family took root. That love showed immediately. It showed in the 
way that he treated his stepson Christian as his own. It showed in the 
birth of his son Blayke, and it shows today in the brand new baby girl 
Melinda had on October 7. Some months after his death, little Alexea 
was born.
  David was a truly remarkable man, a remarkable American. In his love 
of nature and family, he displayed this every day. And he also 
displayed it in his sense of duty.
  David was laid off from work just as he married Melinda, and he 
wanted to make sure his family was taken care of. He wanted a secure 
future, so David chose service in the Army. Where so many are content 
to let others provide for them, that was unacceptable to David. His 
determination, his courage, his sense of duty to his family, those are 
the qualities, the simple and small touches of everyday nobility that 
make this country great and made David such a fine, outstanding young 
man.
  Just a few months later Army Corporal Shawn Hensel of Logansport died 
on August 14 from wounds sustained during an enemy attack in Baghdad. 
Shortly after learning about his death, Shawn's dad, David, spoke of 
the love for Shawn among his family, ``Shawn had two sisters that 
really loved him.''
  Observing the crowd at a memorial service for Shawn just one week 
later, Shawn's sister Autumn noted, ``It's nice to know that one person 
could be loved so much.'' He was loved by his family and by his 
community.
  Shawn had been married to his wife, Laci just 8 months before his 
death. Laci noted of Shawn, ``The love he had for his country and his 
family was unbelievable.'' This observation was reinforced by Pastor 
Strite, the preacher at the Church of Christ in Logansport, ``He was 
privileged to wear his uniform, and he wore it wherever he could.''

                              {time}  2200

  This love of country, this pride of service played on another quality 
of Shawn. His friend, Chuck Porter, remarked, ``Shawn just had a way to 
get into your heart.'' His life and service now leaves him in all our 
hearts.
  I was there on the day of Shawn's funeral for one of the most 
remarkable sites you could ever see in this country. As he was being 
escorted to the cemetery, we drove through the City of Logansport, and 
from one end to the

[[Page H13841]]

other, five deep on either side of the road, people standing there with 
one hand over their hearts, the other hand holding an American flag, 
and tears being shed at every corner. It was a remarkable tribute from 
a remarkable city to a remarkable young man.
  Sergeant Nicholas Patterson of Rochester was killed on September 10 
in an accident while his team was returning from a raid in western 
Baghdad. Like many people in the Army, Nick was a spectacular athlete. 
A 2001 graduate of Rochester High School, he led his basketball team in 
scoring his senior year, and in Indiana that is quite an 
accomplishment. He played second base for the baseball team, proudly 
wearing number 10 in both sports. His former teacher, Rob Malchow, 
said, ``Nick had such an outgoing personality. He had so much energy, 
you couldn't help but get to know him.'' When he joined the Army, 
shortly after graduation from high school, he set his sights on 
becoming a paratrooper. He was thrilled to become a member of the 
storied 82nd Airborne Division, and treasured the camaraderie of his 
men and his brothers. His widow, Jayme, said Nick was ``very, very 
proud to be part of the unit he was in.'' Nick described it as a high-
speed team. Fellow soldier Sergeant Blake Bagbay noted, ``Nick could 
always be counted on to pick you up and make you smile. His concern for 
his fellow soldiers and his friends will be missed by all.''
  Nick and Jayme shared their loved with their 4-year-old son, Reilly, 
and he valued the daily contact with his family by phone, e-mail, and 
even Web cam from Iraq. He made sure to e-mail Jayme every day, and the 
last thing he said in every e-mail he sent to her were the three words, 
``I love you.''
  He was close to his dad, Jim, whom he affectionately called Pops. 
Father and son shared a love of the Chicago Cubs, a difficult passion 
under any circumstances, the Indianapolis Colts, IU basketball, and 
fishing in Nyona Lake.
  Everyone in Nick's family continues to mourn his loss; his mom and 
stepdad Jane and Scott Holmes, his stepmom Virginia Patterson, sister 
Tai Johnson, and stepbrother Kyle McLochlin, as well as the entire 
close-knit community of Rochester.
  Mr. Speaker, our most recent loss in Indiana's Second Congressional 
District occurred less than 2 weeks ago when Army Captain Tim McGovern 
of Idaville, Indiana was killed October 31 while serving in Mosul, 
Iraq. Tim was leading his troops in a mission clearing the roads of 
IEDs when his group came under fire and his truck was hit by a roadside 
bomb.
  After moving to Idaville as a teen, Tim graduated from Twin Lakes 
High in 1997, where he excelled in honors classes and was a star in 
both football and track. Even at that point, it was clear what Tim was 
going to do with his life, as his former football coach commented: This 
young man was made for the Army. ``It didn't surprise me at all when he 
joined the Armed Forces and also when he became an officer. That was 
just the kind of guy he was, born to lead.''
  It probably didn't surprise anyone, for a career in the Army was in 
Tim's blood. Just a year before he graduated from high school, his dad, 
Bill, retired from the Army having achieved the rank of lieutenant 
colonel.
  Tim started on that path immediately following high school when he 
joined ROTC while attending Purdue University. Less than 2 years after 
his graduation from Purdue in 2001, Tim set off to serve the first of 
his two tours of duty in Iraq. He was on his very first tour when the 
war in Iraq started, and when he came home he did not hesitate to do 
another, according to his Uncle Mike.
  Although Tim was in the process of buying a home in El Paso, Texas, 
his heart remained with his family in Idaville and with the Chicago 
Bears. During his second duty in Iraq, Tim was given a 2-week pass to 
return home to the United States. He made sure to return home for the 
Super Bowl, and Tim's parents will never forget the very last moments 
they spent at home with their beloved son. ``Tim was a Bears fan from 
the word go,'' his mom Jonell said. ``In Indiana, he was one of the 
very few rooting for the Bears. He and his grandfather together. That 
is going to stay in our minds forever.''
  But if his heart was with his family, his passion and purpose was 
with the Army. As captain of a 90-member company, Tim showed exemplary 
dedication to his duties and to the safety and well-being of his men. 
His mom noted, ``Tim said the thing he was most proud of was that he 
had never sent anybody home injured, and that nobody had been killed 
from his group. To him, that meant he was doing his job and taking care 
of his men.'' Safety did not mean staying away from where the action 
was in his area.
  He assumed command of Company E from Captain Tim Hudson, who 
observed, ``We both chose to go to El Paso and Fort Bliss, and we both 
came here for the same reason; and that was to come out here and 
command soldiers, keep an eye out for them and protect them and bring 
them home safely.''
  Having commanded Company E for 20 months, Captain Hudson could only 
praise Tim's work upon assuming command in June. ``I put my heart and 
soul into this company,'' Hudson said, ``and after Tim took over, Echo 
Company only got better.''
  What was Tim's secret to being such an excellent commander? He may 
well have shared it with First Lieutenant Michael Holbrook. ``He told 
me there was no greater honor than leading American soldiers. I am 
going to remember that until the day I hang up my uniform.''
  The button Shawn Hensel's mother, Beth, wore after his death said, 
``Our hero, 1987 to 2007.'' Our hero. This is most certainly what Shawn 
was and is now. This is what all of these men are to all of us in this 
country.
  We are used to speaking of young men as having lives full of promise 
and possibility, but all of these young men put their promise and 
possibility on the line in service to their country. For that, we honor 
them as heroes.
  But we are also left with their absence. Nicholas Patterson's dad, 
Jim, expressed the paradox well. ``I am so proud. He is my hero. But it 
hurts so much.'' This is the truth for those families, for all of those 
that love these young men and so many more in our country. By their 
sacrifice, these men and the women who share duty with them are all 
heroes. But that does not erase the pain of all of us who mourn their 
loss.
  When President Dwight D. Eisenhower called upon all the citizens of 
the United States to observe the first Veterans Day in 1954, he gave 
the following instruction, ``On that day let us solemnly remember the 
sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the 
air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and 
let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring 
peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.''
  Mr. Speaker, today I have done my duty to remember those who have 
fought so valiantly this past year, and those from northern Indiana who 
made the ultimate sacrifice for our great Nation. Having honored 
America's veterans, having honored those who gave their lives, may we 
all remember our duty as national leaders to promote a peace both 
enduring and just.
  At this time, I would like to conclude by saying how grateful we are 
to have had them with us during their brief lives, and we will never 
forget them. God bless America.

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