While the U.S. House’s impeachment of President Donald Trump garnered most of the attention in Washington on Wednesday, the two Republicans representing Florida in the U.S. Senate helped get a resolution through honoring the victims of the terrorist attack at NAS Pensacola earlier in the month, praising them as heroes who helped ensure there were not more fatalities.
Florida Republican U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott joined Republican U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue of Georgia and Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby and Democrat U.S. Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama in passing the resolution.
Scott took to the Senate floor on Wednesday to honor the victims.
“Today, we come together to honor the courage of our brave men and women in uniform – our heroes – and to remember the victims of the tragic terrorist attack that took place at Naval Air Station Pensacola on the morning of Friday, December 6th,” Scott said. “I’d like to thank my colleagues, Senators Rubio, Perdue, Isakson, Shelby, and Jones for standing with me today as we honor the sacrifice and memory of the three victims and their families: Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, known to friends and family as ‘Mo,’ just 19-years-old from St. Petersburg, Florida, a great athlete who loved to make others laugh; Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson of Enterprise, Alabama, a 23-year-old natural-born leader and selfless volunteer who lifted others up. Joshua died a hero after giving first responders information on the shooter’s location while he was mortally wounded; and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters of Richmond Hill, Georgia, just 21-years-old with a contagious smile whose dream was to serve his country. Our sailors and law enforcement officials showed heroism and bravery in the face of evil as they ran towards the shooter that day, saving lives. And our first responders, who came to the swift aid of those in need: thank you.
“Today, the state of Florida stands united around the community of Pensacola and the families of the victims as we pray for healing,” Scott continued. “And I join my colleagues as we do everything we can to prevent future terrorist attacks. Thank you.”
Rubio also took to the Senate floor to honor the victims.
“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,” Rubio said.
“Pensacola is one of Florida’s hidden gems. The Navy and Marines are part of the identity, fabric, and culture of the city,” he added. “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,” Rubio continued. “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.
“Twenty-three year-old Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson of Alabama. Son of Benjamin Watson and Shelia Wilemon Watson,” Rubio said. “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.
“Nineteen year-old Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham’s family moved to St. Petersburg, Florida from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina,” Rubio said. “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,” Rubio said.
“Let us never forget the heroes who sacrificed their lives protecting their fellow Navy members as this tragedy unfolded at Naval Air Station Pensacola,” Rubio concluded. “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.”
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.