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I would like to thank the gentleman and also all of my colleagues for a great trip, for a really great factfinding trip. It was an opportunity to go over there in a bipartisan nature and to really learn about what our troops go through on a daily basis and about what they're doing for the Afghani people.
In the same light, it was also an opportunity to learn about some other allied nations we have because, when you boil all of this down, whether it's the Czechs, the Jordanians, the Afghans or the Azerbaijani people, we're all fighting for the same thing. We're all fighting for democracy, and we're all fighting for freedom. So it was truly an honor to go over there and to learn firsthand about everything that's going on there. It was an opportunity to really go out and see what our guys go through on a daily basis.
Being put in a camp there in western Afghanistan and seeing the relationships and the support they're building with the Afghan people was tremendous. Building those friendships really allows our troops and all of our allied troops to go in there, to make friends with them and to help them defend their own country. No matter where we went on this trip, there was a sense of pride that everybody had in themselves, in their country and in their warfighters: that we were all out there, fighting for democracy and freedom.
When you talked to the troops, you could really see it in their eyes even when they asked the question: What is the end? When is the end? You looked at them and said, Well, the end is to give these people the opportunities that we have. The scary thing about it is a lot of the Afghani people don't understand what it is to live in a democracy, what it is to have freedom.
You could always see the twinkle in our troops' eyes when you said that to them because you could sense that some of them were thinking, Well, when is this going to be over? Then you just refresh their memory on what they're fighting for. They're fighting for our freedom. They're fighting for the freedom of other human beings. It was truly an honor to go over there and witness that and experience that and really just say ``thanks'' to all of them.
As my colleague said, I had somewhat of a rock star mentality over there. Everyone asked me, Can I get a picture? I can't give you enough time in the world for what you're doing for us and for what you're doing for other people around the world with the sacrifices you're making, and I say that on a day-in and day-out basis with every troop I ever meet with.
You go off into the villages, and you see a group of guys who are living together in a camp out there. That's all they have. They're brothers. You could see them all, and they were having beard growing contests throughout the camp. Some of them participated and some of them didn't, but they were taking a lot of pride in that type of stuff, and were just keeping that morale going. It was great to see because you knew what type of desperate situation they were in.
I think when we all got to that boot ceremony there at the end--and many of you have seen it before where there's the boots with the M16s stuck in the middle, with the dog tags wrapped around the weapon, and the helmet on top--it was a somber reminder of the cost of freedom and of the cost of democracy. I really want to, along
with my colleagues, say ``thank you'' to everybody.
The one gentleman I do want to recognize is Major David L. Brodeur, whose call sign was actually ``Klepto.'' Throughout the ceremony, they would call the guys by their call signs; and when they went through the roll call and they kept calling these guys' names, the silence was deafening because they kept calling his name, and there was no one answering as they went through the whole company. I know quite a few of us were really brought to tears in that moment.
Major Brodeur was born on December 10, 1976. He was commissioned through the United States Air Force Academy in 1999 where he majored in political science.
After graduating pilot training in 2001, he was qualified as an F-16 pilot. He was then assigned to Shaw Air Force Base where he served as the Assistant Weapons Officer in his squadron. He next served at Luke Air Force Base as scheduler, flight commander and weapons instructor pilot. At his next assignment to Eielson Air Force Base, he was the Chief of Scheduling, an F-16 Aggressor Pilot, and the Chief of Aggressor Academics. Upon his deployment, he was assigned as Executive Officer to the 11th Air Force Commander at Elmendorf Air Force Base.
Major Brodeur deployed and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and was deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as an Air Adviser to the Afghan Air Corps Command Center.
He is survived by his wife, Susan, by his son, David, Jr.--aged 3--and by his daughter, Elizabeth.
It is truly guys like him who make the difference, who are a big reason why people like myself, I really think, get involved in supporting these heroes and in making sure they're known. Yes, we've suffered a loss here, but the true people who have suffered the ultimate loss are his family. His children aren't going to have a father. Myself being a father of three, I realize that. I respect that. May God bless his soul, and may God bless his family. We thank him for his service.
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