Dec 06 2016

Fischer Honors Sergeant Germaine Debro of Omaha

Continues Series of Tributes to Nebraska Heroes Killed in Iraq and Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and chairman of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, honored the life of Sergeant Germaine Debro of Omaha, Nebraska on the floor of the U.S. Senate. 

While stationed in Iraq in 2006, Sergeant Debro was driving a Humvee providing advanced security for a convoy. He was killed when the vehicle struck an improvised explosive device.

Today’s speech marks Senator Fischer’s eighth tribute this year to Nebraska service members who have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

The full text of Fischer’s tribute to Sergeant Germaine Debro of Omaha, Nebraska, as prepared for delivery, is below. 

M. President, I rise today to continue my tribute to this generation of Nebraska heroes.

They are the men and women who have given their lives defending our freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Each one has a different story; each Gold Star Family has the same request:

That we remember the sacrifice of their loved one.

By telling the stories of these service members, here on the Senate floor, we can honor that request.

Today, I honor the life and service of Germaine Debro, a man who seemed destined for military service.

Germaine’s father, Alvin Debro, was a career Air Force Technical Sergeant. 

At a young age, Germaine even picked up a nick name: “G.I. Joe Maine.”  

Even then, family and friends saw qualities that would make him a great soldier.

Because of his military service, Alvin and his wife, Priscilla, and their three boys moved often. 

Germaine attended Benson High School in Omaha, Nebraska, for a year before his family moved to Arkansas.

There, Germaine graduated high school in 1991.

Later, he and his family returned to Nebraska.

For a time, Germaine worked as a manager at a local Burger King. 

But, in 1994, “G.I. Joe Maine” followed his calling and enlisted in the Army.

In 1997, he joined the Nebraska Army National Guard.

During these years, Germaine became known for his genuine personality and developing a great camaraderie with his fellow soldiers. 

According to Specialist Shawn O’Neil, Germaine was the “nicest guy you could ever meet.”

He would walk into a room and it would light up.

To his “battle buddies,” Specialist Germaine Debro was affectionately known as “DB.”

His dedication to his fellow soldiers was obvious. 

Being single, Germaine volunteered for assignments so that married soldiers might remain at home with their families.  

Germaine deployed to Kuwait in 2001 and to Bosnia in 2002. 

In 2005, Germaine learned his unit, the First of the 167th Cavalry of the Nebraska Army National Guard, would deploy to Iraq. Germaine would be assigned to Troop B.  

Germaine’s family was anxious about him deploying again, but Germaine would not let his Army brothers go without him.  

In the end, his family supported his decision.

In explaining how his fellow soldiers felt about Germaine, Sergeant Josh Graft put it simply: 

“He was like a dad to all of us.”  

After a year of training, the First of the 167th Cavalry arrived in Iraq in early 2006.

That’s when the Sunni-Shia civil war erupted.  

In February, the al-Askari mosque was bombed and Iraq was plunged ever deeper into sectarian violence.  

American forces had come to enforce peace; they found themselves engaged in intense wartime operations.

Germaine’s unit was right in the thick of it.

Enemy attacks were frequent.

Tensions were high.

On September 4, 2006, a 20-truck convoy headed out from a site 30 miles north of Baghdad.  

In the United States, Americans were celebrating Labor Day with barbeques, sporting events, and family gatherings.  

In Iraq, Germaine was driving a Humvee providing advance security for the convoy.

Thirty miles outside Baghdad, Germaine’s Humvee struck an improvised explosive device.  

The vehicle was spun several times before erupting into flames.  

Sergeant Josiah Warren, riding in the right seat, tried unsuccessfully to pull Germaine free.

Germaine Debro died on September 4, 2006. 

At Iraq’s Camp Anaconda, members of the Nebraska Army National Guard assembled to honor the man who had cared so deeply for them. 

On September 18, 2006, the Morning Star Baptist Church near downtown Omaha was filled with people paying a final tribute to Germaine Debro. 

Outside, 110 patriot riders stood guard.  

Germaine’s brother, Maurice, read from a letter Germaine had written him. 

In it, he shared some advice his brother had offered him: 

“If you don’t take a risk, then you’ll never know what happened.”  

“That was my brother,” said Maurice, “He was a loving, caring person.”

Germaine Debro was promoted posthumously to the rank of sergeant.

His military decorations include a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

Sergeant Germaine Debro is survived by his father, Alvin; his mother, Priscilla; and brothers Alvin Jr. and Maurice.

He is a true Nebraska hero, and I am honored to tell his story. 

Thank you, M. President. 

I yield the floor. 

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