Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rick Scott (R-FL) were joined by Senators David Perdue (R-GA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Richard Shelby (R-AL), and Doug Jones (D-AL) in passing a resolution honoring the victims of the tragic shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola on December 6, 2019. Shortly after the Senate passed the resolution, Senator Rubio honored the victims in a speech on the Senate floor.
Rubio’s remarks as prepared are below. Broadcast quality video can be found here.
Rubio: “Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson.
“Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham.
“Airman Apprentice Cameron Walters.
“Those are the names of our nation’s heroes who lost their lives the morning of Friday, December 6th, when a horrific event took place at Naval Air Station Pensacola in my home state of Florida.
“In only fifteen minutes, this act of senseless terrorism killed three and wounded eight people.
“Pensacola is one of Florida’s hidden gems. The Navy and Marines are part of the identity, fabric, and culture of the city.
“This terrorist attack was not just an attack on the Naval Air Station, it was an attack on the very heart and soul of Pensacola.
“I visited Naval Air Station Pensacola in the aftermath of the attack. When I arrived, I was deeply saddened by the loss of life and impact this loss had left in the community.
“But I was also in awe of the bravery of so many, including the first responders who made their way to harm’s way.
“The stories of heroism in the face of evil remind us that those who volunteer to serve our country personify the very ideals of what makes this the greatest nation on earth.
“23 year-old Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson of Alabama. Son of Benjamin Watson and Shelia Wilemon Watson.
“Ensign Watson dreamed of becoming a Navy pilot and reported to Pensacola for flight training the week of Veterans Day. He was the officer on deck at the time of the shooting.
“When faced with danger, Ensign Watson did what so few do — he ran towards it. Watson yelled out for people to get out, proceeded to tackle the shooter, and fought him in an attempt to disarm him — all while being shot at least five times.
“Even though he was heavily wounded, Ensign Watson made his way out to flag down first responders and gave an accurate description of the shooter.
“19 year-old Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham’s family moved to St. Petersburg, Florida from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
“Haitham’s Lakewood High school assistant principal, where he graduated from last year, called him ‘the Perfect One’ because he was a good student, a star track runner and basketball player.
“According to the Assistant Principal, he ‘would walk into any room and it would light up. He had this magnetic personality — big smile, always happy. And people would always
gravitate toward him.’
“Airman Haitham’s commanding officer told his father that his son had also bravely attempted to take down the gunman.
“For those who knew 21 year-old Cameron Walters of Georgia, he ‘was an amazing guy, he always had something good to say to everybody, and was always smiling.’
“The morning of the shooting, Walters was randomly assigned to watch duty in Building 633, which is where the shooting unfolded. The airman apprentice had only been stationed in Pensacola for two weeks before the deadly attack.
“Let us never forget the heroes who sacrificed their lives protecting their fellow Navy members as this tragedy unfolded at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
“There is no action we can take to bring these heroes back, but what we can do is commit ourselves to serving our country honorably and to ensure that reforms are put in place to prevent an attack like this from happening in the future.”
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