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Public Statements

In Honor of Captain Gilman G. Udell, Jr. on the Occasion of His Retirement

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


IN HONOR OF CAPTAIN GILMAN G. UDELL, JR. ON THE OCCASION OF HIS RETIREMENT-HON. JACK KINGSTON (Extensions of Remarks - December 07, 2004)

Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor one of our Capitol Police Officers. On December 31, 2004, Captain Gilman G. Udell will retire after 33 years of serving the Congress as a member of the United States Capitol Police (USCP). Captain Udell spent the majority of his career, and finished as the commanding officer, of the USCP Hazardous Incident Response Division. Captain Udell was one of the six original members of the USCP bomb squad, first organized in the Spring of 1974. To exemplify Captain Udell's fine work in this area, one must review the threat environment over the last 30 years.

On March 1, 1971 a bomb exploded in a restroom on the first floor of the Senate wing of the Capitol, causing extensive damage. After that incident, the Department selected six officers to attend the basic bomb course at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. When Gill Udell and the other original members returned to Washington after completing the training at Redstone Arsenal, their new unit became part of the Special Investigations Division.

Over the 30 years of its existence, the Bomb Squad has excelled at developing and adapting new tools and techniques for rendering safe procedures. Members of the unit work with other Federal agencies such as the FBI, ATF, DoD and DoE, as well as private contractors in the defense industry to stay current with new technology and to promote the development of new tools and techniques for the bomb technician community. Captain Udell has been instrumental in every measure of this development.

Although most of the calls received by the Bomb Squad each day turn out to be nothing harmful, there have been a number of incidents over the years in which the danger was real.

July 4, 1976: An individual was stopped who had been acting suspiciously, looking at the grates on the West Front. When searched, the suspect admitted having home-made explosive devices, 1" x 6" inch lengths of cardboard tubing with non-electric fuses. Each of these bombs packed the explosive power of about a quarter stick of dynamite. The devices were transported to Ft. Belvoir, where the ATF assisted in detonating them. The suspect had intended to light the devices and throw them into the crowd.

September 26, 1980: A Chevy pickup truck being used as an incendiary device tried to crash the South Wall of the Capitol building.

May 20, 1982: A hoax device consisting of red candles with a sparkly coating that looked like dynamite and a clock placed inside a shoe box inside a paper bag, was found in the office of the Clerk of the House.

October 18, 1983: At 1330 hours, a male foreign national entered House Gallery #10 with a device that consisted of two one-liter soft drink bottles filled with homemade black powder, a slide switch for control, flash bulb as an initiator, and a battery for a power source. The man stood up and, instead of exiting, walked down to the front, meanwhile trying to flip the switch on his device. Fortunately, the black powder mixture was not mixed correctly, so the device did not go off. The suspect was apprehended as soon as he walked towards the rail, and was eventually deported back to Israel after this event.

November 7, 1983: At 2255 hours, a detonation occurred on the second floor of the U.S. Capitol, opposite the Republican Cloak room, causing extensive damage. The device was constructed of 4 to 5 pounds of dynamite, a battery, electric blasting cap and watch, all placed in a gym bag. Credit for the explosion was claimed by a group calling itself The Armed Resistance Unit. Seven militants belonging to the group were convicted of this bombing in 1990.

August 20, 1984: A Molotov Cocktail was thrown and ignited on the East Front, Center Steps portico, by the 2nd floor entrance. One bystander, a Priest, was injured. The device consisted of a beer bottle filled with gas and containing a wick, and was ignited with a lighter. The perpetrator was arrested.

March 15, 1986: A letter bomb addressed to a senator was intercepted by the U. S. Post Office. The device, consisting of a hollow antenna segment filled with match heads, battery, and wire heating element, had been made by a prisoner and sent from a prison in Kansas.

April 19, 1988: The FBI called the Hazardous Devices Section for assistance. While executing a search warrant, FBI agents discovered deteriorated nitroglycerine-based dynamite in a suspect's closet. The HDS responded, removed, transported and destroyed the dynamite.

June 21, 1988: A hoax device designed to resemble a hand grenade was sent to a Congressman's office but was intercepted by the House Post Office. The item was detonated during render safe procedures performed by the Hazardous Devices Section.

December 5, 1990: A subject attempted to enter the Dirksen Senate Office Building with a hoax device consisting of three signal flares, a clock, wires and a circuit board.

January 3, 1995: Just three weeks after the Bomb Squad acquired its new, state-of-the-art Andros robot, a suspected pipe bomb was found at 3rd and Independence Ave., SW., and the Metropolitan police contacted HDS for assistance. When remote procedures could not open the device, it was placed in the bomb sphere truck and transported to the Marine Corps explosives range at Quantico, Virginia, where it was counter-charged and blown open. The device turned out to be a sand fuse belonging to METRO.

The Capitol Police Bomb Squad is rated by the FBI Bomb Data Center and staff of the Hazardous Devices School at Redstone Arsenal as one of the top bomb squads in the Nation. The unit has achieved recognition throughout the bomb technician community through their assistance to other agencies and service in offices and positions in professional associations and organizations.

Captain Udell successfully led the Unit through many changes as the Department's mission evolved in recent years. The unit that started with a home-made bomb truck put together from donated and surplus parts is today equipped with state-of-the-art technology. Captain Udell was one of the first to recognize the need for specialized training in Weapons of Mass Destruction and Hazardous Materials. Years before the Anthrax Letter was received in Senator DASCHLE's Office, all the HDS technicians were certified to handle nuclear, biological and chemical incidents.

Captain Udell was instrumental in the response to the Anthrax letter attack, which occurred just one month after September 11th, 2001. He led his hazmat trained bomb techs on emergency calls that appeared to never end. Prior to the Anthrax attack, there was typically one or two "suspicious powder" calls a month. That was soon to change. On October 15th, the Senator Daschle anthrax letter was opened in the Hart Senate office building. It was the 3rd, of a total of 56 "suspicious powder" response calls, for just that day. Captain Udell managed the teams' response, and being a certified bomb and hazmat technician himself, he jumped in and responded to calls with his team. The response and clean up of the anthrax incident encompassed nearly seven months until completion. Captain Udell worked tirelessly throughout the entire period, working long extended hours and rarely taking a day off. To Captain Udell, this was just doing his job; to his team, the Capitol Police, and the Congressional Community Captain Udell is a true leader and patriot in the protection of Congress.

After the Anthrax incident, Captain Udell played a critical part in the development and implementation of the police department's Hazardous Materials Response Team. He finished his career as the Commander of the newly formed Hazardous Incident Response Division of the Capitol Police. The new unit incorporated an "all hazards" response capability to deal with the new and emerging threats in the post 9/11 era.

Captain Udell started his relationship with the Congress as high school student in the Page Program. He has served the Capitol Police and the Congress in an exemplary manner throughout his career. He is a role model to those who follow in what it means to "protect the Congress"-the mission of the U.S. Capitol Police, which Captain Udell has never forgotten.

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