[Congressional Record Volume 152, Number 132 (Tuesday, December 5, 2006)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E2083]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                   IN HONOR OF GENE ARDEN VANCE, JR.


                             HON. SAM FARR

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                       Tuesday, December 5, 2006

  Mr. FARR. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor an American hero, Army 
SSG Gene Arden Vance, Jr. Staff Sergeant Vance was tragically killed in 
action while serving in Afghanistan in 2002. Though I never had the 
honor of meeting Staff Sergeant Vance, I am saddened by his loss and 
want to share my own condolences and those of this House with his 
family, friends, and comrades.
  Staff Sergeant Vance, Jr. was born on 30 November, 1963, in 
Frankfurt, Germany, the son of an Army Special Forces officer. He 
enlisted in the Army in 1981, after graduating from Oceana High School 
in Oceana, West Virginia. He served in a variety of posts from Germany 
to Monterey, finally leaving active duty in 1990. In 1992, he enlisted 
in the West Virginia National Guard, and graduated from the Defense 
Language Institute's (DLI) Persian-Farsi Basic Course in 1998. He 
reentered active duty immediately following September 11th, 2001, and 
he deployed to eastern Afghanistan with the 2nd Battalion, 19th Special 
Forces Group (Airborne) in February 2002.
  On 19 May, 2002, Staff Sergeant Vance's patrol was ambushed by 
Taliban fighters in the province of Paktika, Afghanistan. Although 
critically wounded in the initial attack, Staff Sergeant Vance 
continued to translate battlefield intelligence for Afghan forces in 
the area, directing them out of danger. His calm actions and command of 
the situation saved the lives of two fellow Americans and as many as 18 
Afghani soldiers, and helped to defeat the enemy ambush. For his 
actions, Staff Sergeant Vance was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with a 
``V'' for valor in combat, the Purple Heart Medal, and the West 
Virginia Distinguished Service Medal.
  His actions in combat represented the highest level of bravery and 
professionalism of the American soldier. His actions also represent the 
unique heroism of the military linguist. In the conflicts that our 
nation now finds itself in, languages and their key role in 
understanding and influencing the cultures that they speak for, are 
essential to our national security. That is why I feel it is so fitting 
that the Army has dedicated a new barracks building at the DLI in honor 
of Staff Sergeant Vance, where his service can stand as an example to 
the current generation of linguists who are the key to prevailing 
against the terrorism and instability that threaten America.
  On a personal note, I am doubly touched because as the Member of 
Congress who represents California's Central Coast, I worked hard to 
secure the funding to construct the barracks building that will bear 
Staff Sergeant Vance's name. At the time, I was simply working with the 
DLI leadership to help improve the living conditions for their 
students. I can't overstate now how proud I am that this building will 
now bear witness to the heroism Staff Sergeant Vance and in his name, 
all military linguists who will serve in the global war on terrorism.