Yesterday, it was my sad duty to mark the loss of a soldier, and my great honor to commemorate the memory of an American hero. I read into the Congressional Record a remembrance of Staff Sergeant Marc J. Small of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), U.S. Army, who succumbed to wounds he sustained in combat on February 12, 2009, in Faramuz, Afghanistan.

SSG Small was a medic and a Green Beret. In the midst of terrible suffering, he worked to save the lives of his comrades and Afghan civilians alike. He was the best of the best. He left behind a large, loving family and a beautiful fiancée.

The loss of SSG Small was in support of the challenges we face in Afghanistan – challenges that cannot be overlooked or underestimated.

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee and House Afghanistan Working Group, and a former Navy Admiral who was on the ground for a short period two months after the start of war in Afghanistan, I firmly believe that Al Aeada – which is now in Pakistan – and the more “Al Qaeda-ized” Taliban in Afghanistan must be completely addressed.

We must view the War in Afghanistan in the larger context of Pakistan, the battle against Al Qaeda, and the struggle against terrorism around the world. I am most concerned about the “safe haven” that Al Qaeda has established within Pakistan. As a result, the United States must now re-orient its strategy to one that views Afghanistan as a necessary “base” from which we must ensure – alongside the Pakistani government – that Al Qaeda does not have a “safe haven” within Pakistan from which to operate and plot against our homeland and interests. The security of Afghanistan – and the eventual strengthening of Afghan forces to provide that security in a stable, economically viable society – is also necessary for meeting this goal in the long term. We cannot permit the more “Al Qaeda-ized” Taliban to remain there once we depart, and have them continue to plot against us.

We can never recoup what we’ve lost by the death of SSG Marc Small. But we can draw comfort from his memory, inspiration from his deeds, and we can complete the mission that he so bravely, selflessly, and fearlessly undertook.

The Speech given by Congressman Joe Sestak

“Madam Speaker,

I rise today to honor a young American hero who has given his all in service to our nation.

A 1997 graduate of Methacton High School, Marc Small, of Collegeville, Pennsylvania, represented the best of our community and country when he decided in 2003 to follow in the patriotic footsteps of his father, Sergeant Major Murray Small, U.S. Army, Retired, and enlist in our Army.  As importantly, in following his mother’s compassionate and caring nature, he chose to become a medic with the Army’s Special Forces to assume the responsibility of caring for his comrades in arms as well as some of the poorest people on this earth.  As testament to his intelligence, motivation and courage, in less than five years this remarkable young man quickly rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant, learned the invaluable skills necessary to heal soldiers and civilians and earned the extraordinary honor of wearing the treasured “Green Beret.”

Tragically, on February 12, 2009 at Faramuz, Afghanistan, Staff Sergeant Marc J. Small, of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), U.S. Army, succumbed to wounds sustained in combat.  Before his life was cut short, this young warrior had treated hundreds of Afghani civilians and in the process displayed the very best of the American spirit and character.

By the loss of SSG Marc J. Small we are a much lesser nation and community – but only for the briefest of periods.  Because given the very special nature of this healer and warrior, I am certain that from this tragedy other young men and women will be inspired by the heroism and selflessness of SSG Small.  And from their skills, valor and compassion, the best traditions of our nation will live on – as they must – for this world remains a very dangerous place and the need for our nation to tend to the needs of the poor and oppressed in many remote regions is great.

Madam Speaker I ask that we take a moment to reflect on the service SSG Marc Small has made on our behalf and that we thank his mother, Mary MacFarland; his father, SGM Murray Small U.S. Army (Ret); his step-father Peter MacFarland; his step-mother Karen Small; his brother Matt; sisters Heather MacFarland Wellock, Jennifer MacFarland, and Megan MacFarland; stepbrothers Travis and Tyler Baney; and Amanda Charney who Marc Small deeply loved.

I join all of the constituents of the 7th Congressional District and good Americans everywhere when I pledge that the service and sacrifice of SSG Marc J. Small, U.S. Army, will always be remembered and forever honored.”