Outgoing Senator Mike DeWine finishes tributes to Ohio troops lost in the war on terror

Senator Mike DeWine, defeated by Sherrod Brown in last month’s elections, is leaving the Senate doing something he started doing in 2002: paying tribute to every US troop from Ohio who lost their lives in Afghanistan or Iraq:

A politician’s final moments in public office can define their legacy.

Lawmakers who lost their November races chose different ways to use their waning time on Capitol Hill — some finishing legislation or positioning themselves for a future run.

Sen. Mike DeWine of Ohio’s last task was more solemn.

“My goal has been to do one tribute for each serviceman, and after I lost the election, it became apparent that was going to be difficult,” the Republican told The Washington Times. “It is something only a United States senator can do, so that presented a great sense of urgency.”

So Mr. DeWine spent his last hours delivering more than 75 floor speeches in honor of those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, completing a longtime goal of memorializing the more than 150 from his state who have perished in those wars.

It is a task he began in 2002, when an Ohioan became the first serviceman killed in Afghanistan, but one he pledged to finish before leaving after 12 years in the Senate and more than two decades on Capitol Hill.

“It is the mark of our colleague from Ohio, the kind of person he is … that he would come to the floor of the Senate in his last few days,” said Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican. “[To] focus on others, focus on those who have given the ultimate for their families, for our country and for our future.”

While most of his departing colleagues spent last week backslapping and lauding their own accomplishments, Mr. DeWine, 59, remained in the chamber late each night paying homage.

“I believe it is the least we can do in this Senate,” said Mr. DeWine, who voted for the Iraq war in 2002. He lost his seat to Democratic Rep. Sherrod Brown in part because of his support for the conflict.

The tributes did more than list a person’s name, age and service. Most lasted several minutes and included details, such as how 27-year-old Sgt. Justin Hoffman teased “the love of his life,” girlfriend Teri Price, that he would propose “as soon as he stepped off the plane on his way back from Iraq.” Or how Pvt. Samuel Bowen’s sister, Consuella, has not erased messages he left on her answering machine.

Mr. DeWine remembered Pvt. Adam R. Shepherd as “someone who could brighten any day,” and lauded the 1993 wrestling championship that made Maj. Ramon J. Mendoza Jr. a Buckeyes sports legend.

He might not have been the favorite Senator for Ohioans but when it comes to our troops, it’s easy to see where Senator DeWine stands. A shout-out to him for honoring on the floor of the US Congress Ohio troops who lost their lives fighting for their country in the war on terror.

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