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K. C.
Republican TX 11

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  • Honoring Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle

    by Representative K. Michael Conaway

    Posted on 2013-02-13

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    CONAWAY. I thank the gentleman for yielding some time and allowing me to add my inadequate words and thoughts for Chris and his family.

    I had purchased Chris's book a long time ago; but as things go, I just hadn't read it. After he was murdered a week or so ago, I read his book. It was a very unsettling experience.

    The book is written in what appears to be Chris's voice. I never met Chris, and so I didn't know what he actually sounded like when he spoke. But the book is written in a very conversational tone, and it's almost like you're [[Page H491]] having that conversation with Chris. You're reading, and you're caught up in the stories, and you're caught up in the action. You go, Oh, he was murdered several days ago.

    Chris's style of talking about himself and the things that he did on behalf of his country were very self-deprecating, very matter of fact. I'm sure most of the instances in there where he talked about coming close to being hurt or coming close to near-death experiences are sugarcoated from what the real deal was because I know he didn't want his wife and family and many to know. He certainly wouldn't have been bragging about that anyway.

    But Chris had a very matter-of-fact tone when he was with the SEALs and he was in those battles. Even when he was home, he had a very-- ``casual'' is not the right word--but very matter-of-fact attitude toward the fact that he could be killed, that something bad could happen to him.

    He also spoke in the book often about his faith and a guardian angel. There was one instance where he just moved differently than he normally would have moved, and a bullet went right where he had been. That's a Holy-Spirit-kind of thing. It just wasn't Chris's time.

    So you read through that book, but you know Chris has been taken from us, he's been murdered, and America has lost one of her very best to have worn our colors and to have served.

    I think the thing that comes out of the story in the book was he and his wife's struggle. What was most impressive about it was how torn he was between duty to country and duty to family. He was clear that his first duty was to God, but he was legitimately torn between the responsibilities to not only himself, but his men and the others under his watch and care, and those he protected by killing bad guys before they had a chance to kill our guys. That role he played, he relished it, he cherished it, and he wanted to do it; but he also began to recognize and see the impact it was having on his wife and kids.

    So the struggle he and Taya went through of trying to come to the decision of, Do I give up something I really love to do, and I feel like my duty to do it, that I will have abandoned my friends if I go in a different direction? How difficult that decision was for him and his family, but that he ultimately decided that his role, God's direction for him, was that he be a full-time father to his two kids and a full- time husband to his wife.

    The sense of loss from leaving the service, leaving the SEALs--the truth of the matter is he was in a period of our country's history that is not likely to be repeated ever again. I certainly hope not. The way he spoke about the opportunity to lay his life down for others is very matter of fact in that he was certainly willing to do that.

    I agree with Randy and Louie as they talked about the families. They really are the unsung--I got a little taste of this back when Iraq was going on in a big way and Afghanistan. I've made multiple trips. My wife, Suzanne, is just a basket case while I'm in country. And they never take Members of Congress to any place scary. They're not going to do that. If anything, it would be a helicopter failure or something. For the most part, they never take us anywhere scary, but she doesn't know that. I know it. I know everything is fine. We're wearing suits and ties, and it's fine. But she doesn't know that until I get out of country. As soon as she knew that, I would sense the relief in her.

    That gives me a microscopic sense of what these families have done for 12 years now across the board with their loved ones downrange. As far as the family is concerned, it's a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week risk for their loved one. The loved one knows when it's scary and when it's not and knows when things are going crazy, but the family back home doesn't. They're dreading that car pulling up out front because they know that their loved one is someplace where they could get hurt or killed. The strength of the American serviceman's and servicewoman's family is to support them throughout this timeframe, where we've asked them as a country to do far more for this country than should ever have been asked of any one individual.

    Yes, it's an all-volunteer force and, yes, they continue to reenlist, re-up, and go at it. But we've asked them to do more than we should have. They've recognized that we had to ask them to do these things. So I too brag on the families because that really is where the strength of America is shown, in families being able to back Chris up and the things that he was trying to do to make sure he was able to do downrange all he needed to do without worrying about what was going on back home.

    It is so difficult to lose someone like Chris. We had a wonderful organization in Midland, Texas, called Show of Support, a similar thing to what Chris was doing with his life after he got out, and that is in this instance they take wounded vets on deer hunts. They bring them into town, and they have a big banquet. They take the wives on a shopping spree and to the spa, and then they take the guys hunting. In this past year, they were in the parade heading down to the banquet. And the float that several were on was hit by a train, and four of these men were killed. These men who were killed had already had wounds of war that showed up in their lives every single day. One was killed pushing his wife out of harm's way.

    So losing those four, the personal experience we think we feel with Chris--and we don't, but we do, because he's one of our best and one of those who has done far more for our country than we should have asked-- does feel personal.

    I ask folks around Memorial Day every year that we thank our country and we thank folks for the sacrifices made on behalf of our country, but it's generally in the generic, generally as a group. What I ask people to do is I say, Look, I want you to pick out somebody specific. I want you to think about somebody who we're memorializing today who has actually laid down their life in defense of this country. I want it to hurt a little bit. I want it to cost something for you to say the things we say very casually on Memorial Day.

    {time} 1530 I now have someone else I can think about on Memorial Day when we should all, as a country, recognize these collective sacrifices. Sometimes when you recognize them in the collective, it loses the impact, so I would encourage folks to recognize those sacrifices in the specific by picking out somebody you went to high school with who was killed in Vietnam, as in my case, or someone you know--a family member or whomever--about whom you can say, All right, as it ought to hurt just a little bit.

    I want to thank the gentleman for giving me a chance to add, as I mentioned earlier, my inadequate thoughts on Chris and on his dedication to this country and his sacrifice. I wish Godspeed to his family as they cope with Chris' absence in this life.

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