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Recognizing the Human Cost of Operation Enduring Freedom

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. ZOE LOFGREN of California. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the human cost of the war in Afghanistan. Last Thursday, June 14th, Marine Corporal Taylor Baune, of Andover, Minnesota, was killed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He was 21 years old, and had married his high school sweetheart just three months ago. Corporal Baune was the 2000th American killed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

We often speak of the financial cost of the war in Afghanistan, which has grown to $289 million per day. Although this is a staggering figure, the human cost of the war is beyond measure.

Just last month, a young man from my district, Travis Morgado, was killed in Kandahar Province. Travis was an athlete who enjoyed basketball and football. He joined the Army after graduating from the University of Washington with a degree in civil engineering, expressing a desire to give back to his country. Second Lieutenant Morgado leaves behind his mother, Andrea, and stepfather, Dean Kessler, his father, Joe, and stepmother, Nancy, as well as two younger brothers, a stepsister, and a stepbrother. He is remembered as a loving big brother, and a positive role model for his younger cousins.

I would also like to recognize Marine Corporal Kevin Cueto of San Jose, who was killed in action nearly two years ago, on June 24, 2010, in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. He was 23 years old. Corporal Cueto grew up in San Jose, and later moved to Campbell to live with his father. At Westmont High School, Kevin served in the Reserve Officers Training Corps and was a member of the football, baseball, and wrestling teams. He was also involved with the debate team. After graduating from high school, determined to serve his country, Kevin enlisted in the Marines. Corporal Cueto served a tour in Iraq in 2009, before being deployed to Afghanistan. Corporal Cueto has left behind his father, Phillip Cueto, his mother, Kelley Greenhaw, and a younger brother.
Finally, many mourned the loss of Pat Tillman. Pat grew up in my district. He was a star football player at Leland High School in San Jose, and earned a scholarship to Arizona State University. He helped lead ASU to the Rose Bowl in 1997, and was selected as the team's most valuable player as well as the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. As a student, Pat also excelled, earning the Clyde B. Smith Academic Award, the Sporting News Honda Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and the Sun Angel Student Athlete of Year awards during his time at ASU. Pat was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 1998, and began a promising career as a professional football player. However, when the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001, Pat and his brother, Kevin, decided to enlist. Pat married his high school sweetheart, Marie, and became an Army Ranger, serving tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Corporal Tillman was killed in Afghanistan. He left behind his wife, Marie, his father, Patrick, his mother, Mary, and two younger brothers.

I extend my sincerest gratitude to these brave young men and their families as we mark this solemn milestone. Two thousand American soldiers have paid the ultimate price in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Countless others have suffered wounds, both physical and mental. The human cost of the war in Afghanistan has been immense, and I urge my colleagues to support a safe, immediate, and orderly withdrawal of our troops, and to ensure that our veterans, who have sacrificed so much, are given the care and benefits that they deserve.

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