February 03, 2016

Udall Pays Tribute to Special Forces Soldier Killed in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall delivered a speech on the Senate floor as a tribute to Sergeant First Class Matthew McClintock of Albuquerque, who was killed in Afghanistan on Jan. 5. McClintock was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) of the Washington Army National Guard.

Below are Udall's remarks as prepared for delivery:

Mr. President, I rise today with sorrow and regret to pay tribute to Sergeant First Class Matthew McClintock. Sergeant McClintock was a native of my home state of New Mexico. He died on January 5, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, from injuries sustained from small arms fire. He was just 30 years old.

In answering the call to serve - a call that he answered fearlessly multiple times - Sergeant McClintock's brief time on this earth ended far too soon. It is difficult to imagine the grief that his family and friends are feeling. But I just want to say to them that the memory of this American hero among those whose lives he touched, among those whose lives he tried to protect, and in a nation's gratitude, will always endure.

Sergeant McClintock served in Iraq and in Afghanistan. He joined the Army in 2006 as an infantryman and was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division in Iraq. He began Army Special Forces training in 2009 and was assigned to 1st Special Forces Group. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2012. He left active duty in 2014 and was later assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group of the Washington Army National Guard, and was again deployed with his unit to Afghanistan in July of last year.

That is the official record. But it does not begin to tell us the day to day risks, hardships and challenges Sergeant McClintock and his fellow soldiers encountered, and the remarkable bravery and determination that they gave in return. Our nation has the finest military on earth, and it is because of the dedication and true grit of Americans like Matthew McClintock.

Words cannot take away the pain of those who grieve for Sergeant McClintock now. Words cannot fully express the gratitude our nation owes this valiant soldier. We can only remember - and we always must remember - the sacrifice that Sergeant Matthew McClintock made in service to our country.

We should not forget, nor take for granted, that our men and women in uniform continue to defend our nation every day. They put their own safety at risk to protect the safety of others. They stand watch in faraway lands, always at the ready. Today, we remember and we grieve that some of them, like Sergeant McClintock, tragically do not come home. His watch is over, but his fellow soldiers and his family now stand it in his place.

President Kennedy said that "stories of past courage...can teach, they can offer hope, they can provide inspiration. But, they cannot supply courage itself. For this, each man must look into his own soul." In the face of great danger, at great risk to himself, Matthew McClintock went where his country sent him, time and again, and he served with honor and distinction. I am inspired by his courage, and the heroic actions of others like him.

Major General Bret Daugherty, the commander of the Washington National Guard, spoke for all of us when he said, "Staff Sergeant McClintock was one of the best of the best. He was a Green Beret who sacrificed time away from his loved ones to train for and carry out these dangerous missions. This is a tough loss...and a harsh reminder that ensuring freedom is not free."

Sergeant McClintock leaves behind a wife, Alexandra, and a young son, Declan. I hope they will find some comfort, now and in the years ahead, in Sergeant McClintock's great heart and great courage. He was truly a hero. He loved his country and he made the ultimate sacrifice defending it. To his family, please know that we honor Sergeant McClintock's service, we remember his sacrifice and we mourn your loss.