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Public Statements

Honoring Our Armed Forces

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, one of America's bravest soldiers has fallen, so I rise to speak about SGT William Patrick Rudd of Madisonville, KY. On October 5, 2008, Sergeant Rudd tragically died of the wounds sustained during a ground assault raid on senior leaders of al-Qaida in Mosul, Iraq. He was 27 years old.

Sergeant Rudd was an Army Ranger on his eighth deployment in support of the war on terror. He had previously served five tours in Iraq and two in Afghanistan.

For his many acts of bravery over years of service, he received several medals, awards, and decorations, including the Kentucky Medal for Freedom, three Army Achievement Medals, the Army Commendation Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Purple Heart, and the Bronze Star Medal.

Army Rangers are among the most elite members of our fighting forces. They undergo grueling training to wear the honored Ranger Tab on their sleeves. For Sergeant Rudd it was the life he always wanted.

``I really enjoy what I'm doing and I think I'm really good at it,'' Sergeant Rudd told his friend and fellow Ranger, SSG Brett Krueger. This was just a few days before his death. ``I told him he was,'' Staff Sergeant Krueger remembers.

Sergeant Rudd said, ``And I don't picture myself doing anything else as successful and as comfortable as what I do now.''

Sergeant Rudd's parents also remember their son--who went by his middle name, Patrick--as a young man firmly dedicated to his fellow Rangers and the cause they fight for.

``He died for the country,'' says William Rudd, Patrick's dad. ``He loved the Army Rangers. He loved his men. ..... He didn't join for himself. You might say he joined for everyone else over here.''

Patrick's mother, Pamela Coakley, also remembers her son's sure sense that he was on the right path. ``One thing he told me, if this ever happened ..... was just to know that he died happy and proud,'' she says. ``And that's what stuck with me, because those big brown eyes looked into me. I know he was serious.''

Pamela also remembers Patrick's fascination since he was young with the men and women who fight on the side of the good guys. ``CIA, FBI, ever since he was a little boy growing up. ..... U.S. Marshals ..... his cousin was a State trooper, and he always wanted to be in that field,'' she says.

Young Patrick also loved the outdoors, camping, and riding horses. In fact, the family owned horses and Pamela remembers a time when one of hers was injured. She feared the horse would not survive. But 12-year-old Patrick gave the horse shots, cleaned its wounds, and it lived. ``He was always my little man,'' Pamela says. ``He was always my son, but really the man of the house, too.''

Patrick also looked after his sister, Elizabeth Lam, and that included sending a message to her would-be boyfriends. ``On my first date, he sat on the front porch with a shotgun,'' Elizabeth said, ``on my very first date.''

Patrick graduated from Madisonville-North Hopkins High School in 1999 and then worked at White Hydraulics in Hopkinsville, after which he joined the Army in October of 2003. ``He had spent two years thinking about it, knowing that he needed a different direction in his life and wanting to defend our country,'' Patrick's dad, William, recalls. ``I'm pretty sure he had his mind made up he wanted to be a Ranger when he went through Basic,'' adds Patrick's stepbrother, Josh Renfro.

Assigned to B Company, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, based out of Fort Benning, GA, Patrick became a vital part of his Ranger team. Because he was a NASCAR fan and his favorite driver was Ricky Rudd, his fellow Rangers gave him the nickname ``Ricky.''

``He was a good-hearted person who loved life,'' said SSG Brett Krueger. ``You could never catch him on a bad day. ..... everyone loved him dearly. ..... A lot of younger guys looked up to him.''

SGT Dusty Harrell explains why. ``He spent countless hours passing down knowledge to younger soldiers, to help them be successful.''

Jack Roush, owner of some of NASCAR's most successful teams, heard of the loss of Sergeant Rudd. To honor the Ranger and NASCAR fan, he had a decal of Patrick's name placed on David Ragan's No. 6 car during a race in Atlanta.

At the same time, the Atlanta Motor Speedway donated 200 tickets to members of Patrick's unit to attend the race. Patrick and the other Rangers became close friends who spent time together in and out of uniform. Sergeant Harrell remembers a time when he and Patrick went fishing together in Georgia, and he learned that Patrick, a brave Army Ranger, was afraid of snakes. Sergeant Harrell got a bite on his line and reeled it in to find a water moccasin on the hook. By the time he turned around to share a reaction with his friend, ``Ricky was already up the hill.''

Staff Sergeant Krueger, Sergeant Harrell, and more of Patrick's fellow soldiers came to Madisonville to share their memories of Patrick with his family. After speaking with them, Pamela said, ``It made me feel like I still had sons.''

After the loss of a brave young soldier such as Patrick Rudd, we must keep his loved ones foremost in our minds. We are thinking today of his mother Pamela Coakley; his father William Rudd; his stepmother Barbara Rudd; his sister Elizabeth Lam; his stepbrother Josh Renfro; his grandparents Judy and Bennie Hancock; and many other beloved family members and friends.

Pamela says she has faith she will see her son again someday. For now, she has 27 years' worth of cherished memories, and in many of them Patrick is still her little man, defender of his sister's honor, and doctor to horses.

``I don't envision the war stuff,'' Pamela says. ``I see Patrick sitting on the kitchen counter. I see him sitting down by the creek or laying on the bed with his dog Harley. That's what I see.''

I know the entire Senate rises with me to say we honor SGT William Patrick Rudd for his service, and we will forever remain reverent of his enormous sacrifice on behalf of our Nation.

Madam President, I yield the floor.

I suggest the absence of a quorum.


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