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2009 Barry Winchell Courage Award

This July marks the 10th anniversary of the murder of PFC Barry Winchell at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. One of the privileges of my job with SLDN is having the honor of meeting and getting to know Barry's parents, Pat and Wally Kutteles -- two of the strongest, most genuine and courageous people I know. Each year they come to Washington, DC and talk to members of Congress about their son's murder in an effort to convince lawmakers why we need to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Each year they retell the story of what happened to their son. Each year they relive the horror of what happened to Barry. And each year I marvel at their grace and composure in doing so.

Last week Pat and Wally arrived in DC to present this year's Barry Winchell Courage Award to Major Margaret Witt -- who is currently challenging her discharge from the US Air Force in federal court. In her remarks last Saturday night, Pat said, "Barry would have been so proud to serve alongside Major Margaret Witt." After spending several days with Major Witt -- I can't imagine anyone who would not be proud to serve alongside her. She embodies everything we imagine service members to be. Proud, patriotic -- full of integrity and courage. I cannot imagine a more appropriate person for Pat and Wally to recognize in their son's name.

By Emily B. Hecht, SLDN Managing Attorney |


Comments for this entry are closed.

Kevin in Wichita Kansas on April 14, 2009 at 10.41 pm

I just want to say to Pat and Wally, the world is a better place because of the fight you have inside of you.  Remain strong and your diligence will see you through.