Victims' Rights Caucus


Mr. Speaker, he was buried yesterday in the National Cemetery in Houston, Texas. Monday I met with his parents, Jerry and Teresa, in their home in Humble, Texas, and I am talking about Army Staff Sergeant Michael Durbin. He was born on July 6, 1979, in Houston, Texas. He grew up in Spring, Texas, and attended Nimitz High School where he earned the nickname ``Iceman.'' He excelled in sports and was the quarterback on the football team. He also ran track and played on the baseball team. He was the oldest of five kids, and his father said, ``When he entered a room, he drew everyone's attention.''

He attended Kingwood College before deciding to enlist in the Army in 2001 at the age of 21. His goal in life was to someday work for the CIA, and he enlisted in the hopes that the military would be a quick route toward that goal.

He met his wife Janelle while working together at a Houston computer store. They were married in 2001 and had a son Austin and a daughter Alyssa together. By the age of 26, Michael had already become staff sergeant in an air assault unit, and had bold aspirations of becoming a member of the elite and daring Delta Force.

Staff Sergeant Durbin had already served two tours of duty in the Middle East and was deployed for his third tour of duty in September 2005. Family members said he lived to serve his country, and 2 weeks ago during combat operations in Baghdad, Michael became the 194th Texan killed since the start of the war. He was killed when a homemade bomb exploded while he was on patrol. Michael was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky. By the way, Mr. Speaker, 1 out of every 10 Americans wearing the uniform tonight is from the State of Texas.

I have a photograph of Staff Sergeant Michael Durbin taken shortly before he received another stripe on his left sleeve. Several days before he was killed in Iraq, he sent his wife Janelle a bouquet of flowers, and she talked with him the morning he died. He called her to tell her that he was leaving for a mission, and he loved her and would be back in a few days. He loved playing with his kids and being in love with his wife. They would have celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary next month.

Michael will be remembered by his family and friends for his passion for computers. He was a gifted artist with a special talent for original cartoon characters and superheroes. He actually designed his platoon's boot camp T-shirt when he entered the Army.

With his entire life before him, and his aspirations to serve Americans, Michael risked everything to fight for the values and freedoms we as Americans enjoy this day and every day. He was fighting so the Iraqis can enjoy these freedoms as well.

With the death of Michael Durbin, this Nation lost a freedom fighter, a loving father, and, as his dad said, a perfect son.

I would like to extend my prayers and condolences to his parents, Jerry and Teresa; to his family, relatives and friends in Spring, Texas, and Fort Campbell, Kentucky; his wife Janelle; and his children Alyssa, Austin and Hayley. Michael touched the lives of many people in his 26 years, and our hearts are filled with gratitude for brave soldiers like Staff Sergeant Michael Durbin.

In the words of country singer Randy Travis in his song ``America Will Always Stand,'' he sings the following lyrics about the American soldier: ``Walking through the fires of danger, there are those who gave their lives. They're the world's greatest heroes, and we won't forget their sacrifice. So raise the banner called Old Glory. Let us join our fellow man. History will tell this story, America will always stand.''

Mr. Speaker, history will tell the story of all the brave soldiers like Staff Sergeant Michael Durbin who walked through the fires of danger for freedom for Americans.

That's just the way