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Public Statements

Message From the Senate

Location: Washington, DC

MESSAGE FROM THE SENATE -- (House of Representatives - June 15, 2006)


Mr. WHITFIELD. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of House Resolution 861. Today's debate is about more than just the nations of Iraq and Afghanistan, this debate is about freedom and democracy worldwide and the fight against terror and injustice. Our great nation is doing what we have always done--fighting for the values we hold dear and helping to spread those values to other nations. We also have a choice to make; do we want to fight the terrorists in the streets of America or in Iraq and Afghanistan where al-Qaida has claimed as its battle ground to kill Americans?

The Global War on Terror hits home for me because I have the distinct privilege of representing the brave men and women stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. These courageous Americans have been leading the way in the Global War on Terror since September 11, 2001. In Afghanistan, these soldiers liberated the country from the oppressive Taliban regime. They helped stabilize the country and their efforts as well as those of other units laid the foundation for the democratic elections of Afghanistan's president, parliament, and provincial councils.

In Iraq, the 101st was deployed before the war began in 2003 and were instrumental in the success of dismantling the regime of the criminal dictator Saddam Hussein. They were also responsible for the location and death of Saddam's two sons. They liberated and rebuilt the town of Mosel, including the reconstruction of the city's infrastructure. The 101st is now on its second deployment to Iraq and is involved in the securing of the city of Ramadi where some of the most violent fighting in Iraq still exists. I have personally met with many of the soldiers that have been involved in this fight and they have my utmost admiration and respect. After meeting with the soldiers of Fort Campbell, I am convinced that they understand what they are fighting for in Iraq and are committed to the very end in order to preserve the democracy we have helped create and to ensure the safety of the Iraqi people.

One of the largest newspapers in my state, the Louisville Courier-Journal recently published an article entitled ``Wounded soldiers refuse to leave Iraq.'' I'd like to share a couple of stories from that article about soldiers from Fort Campbell who are completely committed to their mission in the Global War on Terror:

[From the Louisville Courier-Journal] S0634

Specialist Steven Clark from Fitzgerald, Georgia is a soldier in the 502nd Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne. He is a 25 year old young man with more courage than people twice his age. In his time in Iraq, he has been shot three times and has been wounded by shrapnel from a grenade that tore into his legs and back. He has been awarded three Purple Hearts, with another on the way, as well as a Bronze Star with Valor. His Army buddies have nicknamed him ``Bullet Magnet.'' You may ask why he is still in Iraq and the answer is because he wants to be. He says that his wounds are not as important as the mission and he insists on staying.

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Kunk is a commander in the 502nd Infantry Regiment. One of his duties as an officer is to decide which of his wounded soldiers can return to duty and which soldiers get to go home. He says this task is tougher than it should be because his soldiers research Army Regulations and argue endlessly in an effort to stay. Colonel Kunk's story doesn't end there, he was caught in the effects of a roadside bomb that damaged the nerves and muscles in his legs causing his legs to swell and throb from pain by the end of every day. But Colonel Kunk wouldn't think of leaving, he says he's a father and a grandfather and he wants to do right by them. So Colonel Kunk stays and he fights because he knows it's the right thing to do.

Specialist Clark and Lieutenant Colonel Kunk's commitment is without compromise and their dedication to duty should be commended. Their stories are unique, but their actions are not.

There are many soldiers that refuse to leave when they have incurred wounds that would allow them to come home. These service members understand what they are fighting for and they stay to see the mission through to the end.

Mr. Speaker, this Congress should follow the example of our men and women in uniform and stay committed to completing our mission and winning the Global War on Terror. If our soldiers, like Specialist Clark and Lieutenant Colonel Kunk, can make the commitment to stay then we owe it to them to provide our support to stay and get the mission done, to do otherwise would undermine our soldiers' efforts.


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