Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Public Statements

Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, the Senate is now debating the Violence Against Women Act.

We began debate on this legislation by consent, and we would like to complete action on this legislation also by consent. We have been working to enter into an efficient consent agreement with only a couple of relevant amendments and with very short time agreements for processing them.

This approach is in keeping with how Republicans have handled VAWA in the past. This approach would also allow us to complete the bill today. These relevant amendments would give the Senate the opportunity to strengthen the law, especially in terms of the punishment for those who commit violence against women.

As my friend, the majority leader, noted yesterday, a good way to lower the incidence of violent crime is to incarcerate those who commit it. We could not agree more. We would like the chance to improve the law in that respect.




Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I rise this morning to acknowledge the loss of an American hero and patriot. It is my sad duty today to report to my colleagues that Kentucky has lost one of our finest heroes in uniform. This particular loss is very personal to me, as I knew this outstanding young man very well.

CPT Daniel H. Utley of the U.S. Army was killed in the North African country of Mali just a few days ago, on April 20, 2012, while on a training mission to help the local citizens combat terrorism. Dan was 33 years old.

For his service to our country, Captain Utley received many medals, awards, and decorations, including the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Combat Star, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Korean Defense Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, and the NATO Medal. Captain Utley also received the Basic Parachutist Badge and his Thailand Jump Wings.

Charley Utley, Dan's Father said:

He was a great young man; he was a great son. He always put other people ahead of himself. He did an outstanding job while he was there. He loved being in the Army. He enjoyed what he was doing, and he really thought he was making a difference.

It goes without saying that every man and woman in our Armed Forces is an American of special fortitude and character. But I can personally testify to that truth on behalf of Dan Utley. At my alma mater, the University of Louisville, I was glad to have begun the McConnell Scholars Program, a rigorous and prestigious scholarship program for the finest students in Kentucky that prepares them for a lifetime of leadership and service. Dan was one of the best McConnell Scholars to ever grace the program.

I could not agree more with my good friend, Dr. Gary Gregg, the director of the McConnell Scholars Program, who said of Dan's loss: ``America has lost a rising star.''

Dan was born in Bowling Green, KY, on April 13, 1979. He was raised in Glasgow, KY, and he went to Glasgow High School where he played soccer and was a member of the academic team. He was also a member of Glasgow's First Christian Church.

Dan had a lot of hobbies, but most of them had one thing in common: They did not take place inside four walls or under a roof. ``He loved the outdoors,'' remembers Dan's father, Charlie. ``He loved camping, hiking, biking, jumping

out of airplanes, canoeing, kayaking--anything to do with the outdoors.''

Dan graduated from high school in 1997, and he was awarded a McConnell scholarship to attend the University of Louisville.

Dr. Gregg said:

Dan was a workhorse of a McConnell Scholar. There are people who serve for title and glory; Dan was a young man who served in order to serve. When he was an undergraduate, he would volunteer for any cause that came along. He was always trying to help out the underdog. His heart was always bigger than his ego; his compassion for others always outshone his ambition for self. His life was no different in the U.S. Army--what he loved most was serving others in need.

I got to know Dan very well during his time in college, and I came to appreciate what a remarkable young man he was. He was extremely smart. He was also one of the most popular students in the program.

Dan spent one semester in college working in the Kentucky State Legislature, helping to write bills and assisting State senators and representatives with whatever they needed. Dan graduated from the University of Louisville in 2001 with a bachelor's degree with honors in political science. After college, for a time, he enrolled in law school but soon decided, because of his desire to serve, that his path to fulfillment lay in military service.

When I first met Dan, a military career was certainly not at all what I would have expected him to do. But it just goes to show the growth and maturity this young man achieved in such a very short time.

``He was in law school, but after 9/11, he wanted to do something,'' says Charlie Utley. ``He was miserable in law school because he wanted to do something for his country.''

Dan's friend and fellow McConnell Scholar, Connie Wilkinson-Tobbe, agrees and this is what she said:

Dan was ready to live life, and he was probably smarter than everybody sitting in [law school]. That was not stimulating enough for him, and he was ready to do great things.

So in 2003, Dan joined the Army and went through OCS. In almost a decade of Army service, Captain Utley served in many posts, all of them challenging and proof of his skill and talent. He was stationed or deployed in South Korea for 24 months, in Kuwait for 12 months, in Afghanistan for 13 months, and his final deployment in Mali lasted 7 months.

He served in capacities such as tactical communications platoon leader, operations officer while in Kuwait, aide-de-camp for a general in the 160th Signal Brigade, and brigade civil affairs officer in the 101st Airborne. After successfully completing a civil affairs qualifications course, Dan was assigned to F Company, 91st Civil Affairs Battalion, (Airborne), as a team leader.

Let me quote again from Dr. Gregg.

I particularly remember when he called and told me he was being made an aide-de-camp and was going to get a new shoulder holster as part of his job protecting the general he served. It was a position of great honor and he was humbled to have been chosen, but he wanted to talk most about his cool new side arm!

Earlier this year, the news magazine for the U.S. Agency for International Development--Frontlines--published an article about America's efforts to combat instability in Mali, one of the poorest countries in the world. The article stated:

``The presence of the terrorist group al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, which has its roots in the Algerian Civil War, now poses a threat of violent extremism'' in the country.

That is why the U.S. Army, and specifically Captain Utley, was in Mali in the first place. As a team member of the Department of Defense's Civil Military Support Element, Captain Utley was quoted in this article on the valiant work he and his fellow soldiers were doing just a few months before his tragic death.

In September 2004, Dan married Katie, also an Army officer. They had their wedding in Hawaii. Katie was commissioned through the ROTC Program at the University of Georgia, and is now a captain in the Army with the 82nd Airborne, based out of Fort Bragg, NC.

We are thinking of CPT Dan Utley's loved ones today, especially his wife, CPT Katie M. Utley; his father, Charles L. Utley; his mother, Linda H. Utley; his brother and sister-in-law, Charles L. Utley, II, and Maria; his brother and sister-in-law, Matthew R. Utley and Michelle; his nephews, Matthew Ryan Utley and Mason Robert Utley; his niece, Marleigh Rose Utley; his maternal grandmother, Pauline Haynes; his parents-in-law, Chris and Peggy Michael; his brother-in-law, Matthew Michael; and many other beloved family members and friends.

I also know for a fact many faculty members of the University of Louisville, staff members for the McConnell Center, and current and former McConnell scholars will dearly miss Dan. I certainly will.

I had the honor of watching Dan grow from a teenager to a brave and virtuous man who willingly sacrificed everything to defend his friends and his family and his country. Elaine and I extend our deepest sympathies to all who knew and loved him, and I would ask my Senate colleagues to join me in expressing our respect and gratitude to this fine young man, CPT Daniel H. Utley. Let our work here today serve to ensure our country never forgets the duty he fulfilled by putting on the uniform--or the great sacrifice he made in a country many of us could not even find on a map in order to protect our freedoms here at home.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.


Skip to top

Help us stay free for all your Fellow Americans

Just $5 from everyone reading this would do it.

Back to top