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Mr. Speaker, General Douglas MacArthur said: "A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the quality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.''

Tonight, I want to talk about that kind of leader, Army Specialist Dustin Ross Donica, 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division of Fort Richardson, Alaska.

Dustin grew up in Spring, Texas, outside of Houston. His nickname was Double D. He enjoyed teasing his sister, Courtney. He loved to joke around with his family and his friends, and he was known by many for his unique sense of humor. He was very, very close to his family.

He was especially close to his only sister, with whom he shared an unbreakable bond. They were called the "Irish Twins,'' born 1 year apart. The two often told others they were actually twins.

Dustin always described himself as a modest person, although looking at his life, this modest son of Texas accomplished extraordinary accomplishments. Even at a young age, he was known as the hero who grew up down the street. That was because of his attitude about service and about loyalty.

In 2003, the Klein High School graduate left the University of Texas and enlisted in the United States Army.

When Dustin was asked about joining the Army, he said, "I've grown up in a very privileged area. When most people of my generation are asked to do something, their first thought is, how will this benefit me? I need to do this so that my first thought is, how does it benefit others.''

No wonder people said Dustin had a sense of honor and duty. Traits that are very rare in our culture.

When Dustin was deployed to Iraq, he sent his sister a teddy bear. The teddy bear was wearing an Airborne uniform complete with a Donica patch on the pocket. He wanted the bear to serve as a reminder that he was fighting to keep her safe and he was always constantly thinking of her. Mr. Speaker, you know, there's something all-American about a teddy bear.

 

Dustin was constantly concerned for the well-being of his family back home. Even though he was in the combat war zone, all of Dustin's phone conversations with his family ended, "Remember, I love y'all. Take care. Be safe."

One of Dustin's last requests was that his parents visit his close friend, Logan. Logan had served also in Iraq, and he was being treated in the United States for his injuries. He was a very close friend of Dustin's, and Dustin asked that his parents provide Logan comfort by visiting him in the hospital in the United States.

But on December 28, 2006, at the dynamic age of 22, Double D., Dustin Donica was killed in Iraq, conducting combat operations against the anti-Iraqi forces in the city of Karmah in the Al Anbar Province.

As in many other times in his life, Dustin was standing guard, protecting his fellow soldiers in arms when he received his fatal injuries.

Now, the media has taken it upon themselves to assign a number to this patriot. Dustin's legacy is more than just a number. He was an American fighting man. He was the only son of the Donica family. He was totally committed to America. He was not a media number. And Dustin Donica's name was the example of bravery, courage and duty.

Dustin, like those who came before him, stopped at nothing to defend freedom. Our American duty, the duty for all of us that are left behind, is to honor America's sons, like Dustin Donica. In the words of President Calvin Coolidge, "The Nation which forgets its defenders ..... it too will be forgotten.''

Dustin was a man who loved life, family and country. His parents, David and Judy Donica said, "We loved Dustin. He will be missed by us and those that knew him.''

This is a photograph of Dustin Donica, Mr. Speaker. And yesterday Dustin was laid to rest with full military honors in Klein Memorial Park Cemetery in Texas.

These words from one of Dustin's favorite songs, "American Soldier'' by Toby Keith, describe the commitment of courageous men like Dustin who we are proud of, men who are proud to wear the uniform of the United States soldier. It goes like this, Mr. Speaker: "An American soldier, an American, beside my brothers and sisters, I will proudly take a stand. When liberty is in jeopardy, I will always do what's right. I am out here on the front line. So sleep well tonight. Sleep in peace, America, because I'm an American soldier.''

These young Americans like Dustin are a rare breed, Mr. Speaker. They are the American breed, and we thank them and their families.

And that's just the way it is.