U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) joined his colleagues, led by Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), in introducing a bipartisan bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the 13 American servicemembers who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 26th. The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest honor that Congress can bestow.
Specifically, the senators are advocating for the Congressional Gold Medal to be awarded to Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, Cpl. Hunter Lopez, Cpl. Daegan W. Page, Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, Navy Corpsman Maxton W. Soviak, and Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss.
Yesterday, in a speech on the Senate floor, Romney honored Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, of Sandy, Utah. A transcript of his remarks can be found below and video can be found here.
This past weekend, we gathered to reflect on the anniversary of a national tragedy. The visible and invisible wounds incurred on that day continue to impact the lives of all of us.
In the last two decades since 9/11, our nation has demonstrated enormous resilience, imponderable sacrifice, and pursued justice in dangerous lands, often under perilous conditions.
We have asked our servicemembers to do so very much to keep us safe, and they have responded with uncommon courage. Last month, thirteen of our nation’s finest upheld their sacred oath at the cost of their lives.
They were struck down by the cowardice of terrorists while at the same time they were helping innocent Afghan civilians reach a better life. Over 100 Afghan civilians were also killed on August 26 in that terrorist attack at the Kabul airport, and many more were grievously wounded. We also hold in our hearts the American servicemembers who suffered those terrible injuries that day.
On September 11, 2001, Taylor Hoover from Sandy, Utah, was just 11 years old. Nine years later, he was a Staff Sergeant in the Marine Corps. He would go on to serve three tours of duty in Afghanistan and earned both the respect of his fellow soldiers abroad, and the admiration of those who knew him and loved him here at home.
As we recently gathered in Salt Lake City to mourn the life of Staff Sgt. Hoover, it was clear that this deep admiration was shared by thousands of the people of Utah. While our hearts were heavy with grief as his family shared their memories of Staff Sgt. Hoover, they were embraced by the crowd one-by-one as the ceremony concluded, and our communal bonds emerged ever-stronger.
Another brave Utahn also risked his life – and sustained life-threatening injury – while supporting evacuation operations at the Kabul airport that day. Our nation thanks you, Corporal Wyatt Wilson, and we pray for complete and your speedy recovery. You and your brothers and sisters in arms have answered the call to serve with valor and devotion, and your service rendered continues to protect us to this day.
Let us carry forward these shared values and reflections on sacrifice in our daily lives and endeavor to strengthen our national bonds of unity.
May God bless our nation’s fallen and our wounded, and may He bless also their families and all the servicemembers who are today in harm’s way. We are indebted to those known for their bravery, sacrifice, and heroism.