Apr 25 2016
Speech on Senate Floor is Fourth in Series Paying Tribute to Nebraska Heroes
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WASHINGTON – This evening, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) spoke on the Senate floor as part of her initiative to honor Nebraskans who gave their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Throughout this year and beyond, Senator Fischer will deliver remarks as a memorial to each of these heroes.
Her maiden speech in January told the story of Sergeant Josh Ford, who was killed in Iraq in 2006. In February, she honored Sergeant Jeff Hansen of Cairo, Nebraska, who lost his life in a 2006 Humvee accident in Iraq. In March, she paid tribute to Lieutenant Jacob Fritz of Verdon, Nebraska who was killed in 2007 following a raid by enemy combatants in Karbala, Iraq.
Today, Senator Fischer paid tribute to Master Sergeant Linda Tarango-Griess of Sutton Nebraska. Sergeant Tarango-Griess was killed by an improvised explosive device in Samarra, Iraq in 2004.
Below is the full transcript of today’s speech featuring Master Sergeant Linda Tarango-Griess of Sutton, Nebraska:
Mr. President, I rise today to continue my tribute to Nebraska’s heroes and the current generation of men and women who lost their lives defending our freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Each of these Nebraskans has a special story to tell.
Throughout this year and beyond, I will continue to honor their memory here on the Senate floor.
Today, I wish to highlight the life of Master Sergeant Linda Tarango-Griess of Sutton, Nebraska.
Linda was known to everyone as “one proud soldier.”
From an early age, she was disciplined and focused on the future.
Her aunt Marie remembers this future soldier as “a great kid” who was always helping others.
Marie would know because she raised Linda from the age of 11.
Linda attended Kearney High School, where she enjoyed playing softball and volleyball.
She was also active in the Big Brother/Big Sister program.
Linda’s willingness to serve as a role model and mentor for others came as no surprise to those who knew her.
As one of her high school classmates recalled, Linda was “someone who always had a smile and positive attitude.”
After graduating from Kearney High in 1989, Linda was determined to go to college, but she struggled to find a way to pay for it.
She learned about tuition assistance opportunities offered by the National Guard and decided to enlist.
Through the National Guard, Linda discovered her passion for being a soldier in the U.S. military.
It also allowed her to complete her college education.
Linda graduated from the University of Nebraska in Kearney with a degree in criminal justice.
As part of her service, Linda was required to train one weekend a month in York, Nebraska.
It was there that Linda met her soulmate, Doug Greiss.
After dating for a few years, they were married in 1994.
For the next several years, the young couple formed a new bond and began planning for the future while continuing their service in the Nebraska Guard.
Less than a decade after they were married, their roles in the military would bring them both to the front lines of a new war, a world away from home in Iraq.
Linda and Doug wondered which of them would be called up first.
Then the news came for Linda to deploy with the 267th Ordinance Company.
After deployment training, the 267th arrived at Camp Speicher near Tikrit, Iraq, in February of 2004.
As one of the unit’s senior sergeants, Linda’s helpful nature and insistence on doing every job well quickly stood out.
Her professionalism and caring nature boosted the morale of her platoon.
An officer from a nearby unit said Linda “was always a true professional – not only a mentor, but also a friend. She served her country honorably.”
The summer of 2004 was shaping up to be a complicated period.
Doug was at annual training back home with rumors flying about his unit deploying.
At the same time, Linda was planning to return home on leave to be with Doug and her family for a short time.
On July 10, Doug’s unit received deployment orders.
The following day, on July 11, 2004, the unthinkable happened.
Linda was driving in a convoy through a “high-threat” area in Samarra, Iraq.
The convoy was attacked by al Qaeda insurgents, and Linda’s vehicle took a direct hit from an improvised explosive device.
Linda and another soldier were killed.
She was only two weeks from returning to Nebraska.
Doug was at home with his friends, discussing their upcoming deployment.
Suddenly, a car pulled up with three soldiers dressed in Class A uniforms.
Doug knew why they were there.
Linda was buried in Sutton, Nebraska, and over 1,000 mourners travelled to this small town in central Nebraska to honor this brave soldier.
A month later, Doug deployed to Iraq with his unit.
His grief over the loss of Linda was held at bay for a year as he focused on his mission and fellow soldiers.
Linda would have wanted it that way.
Doug’s commitment to fulfilling this oath and serving his nation would have made her proud.
Master Sergeant Linda Tarango-Griess was the first woman to lose her life in combat while serving in the Nebraska National Guard.
She earned the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and was promoted posthumously to Master Sergeant.
Doug would later re-marry, and he is now the proud father of three wonderful children.
Linda’s aunt Marie lives in Lincoln, where she is active in Yellow Ribbon activities for troops serving abroad.
Linda’s sister, Vicki, lives in North Platte with her three children, not far from her brother Augie and father Augustin.
To this day, one of Linda’s cousins keeps an email from Linda that was sent before she departed on her final mission.
In the email, Linda proudly describes how her platoon competed in a five-mile run, which the 267th nicknamed the “Desert Dash.”
Linda said, “None of us won the race, but in our hearts, we are winners, our reward is the self-satisfaction for just finishing the race.”
I hope all Nebraskans remember her as an example of what it means to serve our nation with bravery, compassion, and joy.
Master Sergeant Linda Tarango-Griess is a hero.
She embodied the grit and determination of an American soldier, and I am honored to tell her story.
Thank you, M. President. I yield.
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