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Disclaimer: The author of this site maintained the campaign weblog of John Kline's opponent in the 2006 election, which made Congressman Kline a bit testy.

As with all blogs, review the facts carefully and draw your own conclusions.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Kline Record: The Inspirational Story of Christopher Chandler

Speaking in support of staying the course in Iraq and offering our troops "all levels of support", John Kline offers the truly inspirational story of Christopher Chandler. And that's great, but shouldn't he be arguing for more and better body armor instead?

Whatever. My only other comment is that four months into the legislative session in 2004, Kline has so far managed to recognize Reagan's birthday for the second consecutive year, make two unfair speeches in support of Bush's re-election campaign, and argue for "staying the course" in Iraq by telling the lengthy tale of an Afghanistan vet who stuggled to return to duty after losing his leg.

When is Kline going to say anything about policy in 2004?

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to talk about the heroes, not in the large sense, but in the individual sense, the heroes that we have in this war, fighting in this war in Afghanistan and in Iraq. And, specifically, I would like to share the story today of just one of the many committed Marines. And I know that the gentleman's son is in the Marines, and we share some common bond here; but one of the Marines that is serving today in Iraq has an incredible story.

I was talking to the commandant of the Marines this week. He was in an airplane, I think he said at 48,000 feet. It is amazing how we fly these airplanes these days. He was telling me the story of Sergeant Christopher Chandler. I wanted to share that today because it is a story of resolve, determination, love of country, and love of the American people. It is an example that we see in other men and women in uniform, but this one is particularly special.

I have got some notes here to make sure I get the dates and times right. In November of 2001, Sergeant Christopher Chandler answered the call to service in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Less than one month into this assignment, Sergeant Chandler stepped on a land mine while providing security for an explosive ordnance disposal unit in Kandahar, Afghanistan; and he lost a leg.

Sergeant Chandler was one of the first service members injured in the global war on terrorism after the attacks on 9/11 and the first American to be awarded the Purple Heart in Operation Enduring Freedom. Despite the severity of his injury, he refused to let the incident diminish his resolve.

Following the incident, Sergeant Chandler was evacuated to Walter Reed Army Medical Center where he received treatment and was outfitted with a prosthetic leg.

Neither his injury nor the immediate danger he experienced were able to stifle the determined spirit of Sergeant Chandler. Upon completion of physical therapy, he re-enlisted in the Marine Corps and requested a seat in the U.S. Army jump school.

His request was met, as I am sure you can imagine, with some resistance. He was informed that no exceptions could be made for any physical limitations. He would be required to complete every task and fulfill each training requirement at the same level of excellence as everyone else attending that jump school.

He accepted the challenge. He excelled. He was able to demonstrate to the physical evaluation review board that he was fit to return to full active duty without limitations. He became the first amputee to complete Army jump school.

The story is not over. In December of 2003, Sergeant Chandler graduated, exceeding all expectations by being selected the noncommissioned officer honor graduate of his class.

Today Sergeant Chandler is serving our Nation bravely as a member of the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance in Iraq.

It has been said that the truest test of a man's character is not what he does with success, but what he makes of defeat. For generations, the Marine Corps has trained recruits with this type of determination and instilled the courage in its men and women to move forward when those around them have faltered. Sergeant Chandler is a leader, but he is not the only one.

Thousands of terrific men and women have answered the call to serve because they know how important this service is to the security of America and to a stable world. And these brave men and women deserve to know that they have our unconditional love and support.

In those discussions with the Commandant of the Marine Corps, as I mentioned earlier, and he has just returned from Iraq only just a couple of weeks ago, he shared with me the single most asked question about the families of the American and women serving at every level and by the men and women themselves in the Marine Corps. And the question is, Do we still have the backing of the American people?

He answers unequivocally yes. We need to make certain that stays so. These men and women who face danger each day on our behalf see and hear the same newscasts that we do. We cannot allow the morale of our troops to be diminished by these negative reports.

Mr. Chairman, you are absolutely right. We have to stay the course. We have a responsibility to make our support known, our emotional, financial, all levels of support to every man and woman who serves this Nation. We owe them no less. We cannot show any weakening of resolve.

It is a commitment that we have to Sergeant Chandler and to all the Marines and soldiers serving over there.

I know, Mr. Chairman, you are giving them your unqualified support and I pledge mine, and I ask my colleagues and the American people to do the same.

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