Hagerty Delivers Remarks Honoring Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss

September 21, 2021

WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) today delivered remarks on the Senate floor honoring the life and legacy of a Tennessean and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, who was killed in the terrorist attack outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 26, 2021.

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Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Madam President, I’ve come to the Senate floor today—on behalf of myself and the senior Senator from Tennessee, Senator Blackburn—to honor the life and legacy of a heroic Tennessean, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, who was killed in a terrorist attack while serving the country that he loved in Afghanistan on August 26, 2021.

Staff Sgt. Knauss served with the Army’s 9th Psychological Operations Battalion, 8th Psychological Operations Group at Fort Bragg.  He was from Corryton Tennessee—a small rural community where love of country and the Volunteer spirit runs deep.  Corryton is known for being the hometown of country music star Kenny Chesney.  It’s now also known for being the hometown of Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss.

Ryan was 23 years old when he laid down his life for his nation.

I have spoken with Staff Sgt. Knauss’s widow, Alena, and his father, Greg.

Through our conversations, I got to know a little bit more about Staff Sgt. Knauss and I’m here today to share with you all, and with the American people, just who Ryan Knauss was.

He was a devoted husband.  Ryan met Alena when they were in high school working at a local pizza parlor.  I sensed her deep love for Ryan when we spoke, and I’m certain Alena feels blessed to have had the opportunity to be loved by someone like Ryan.

He was a loyal son.  After speaking with his father, Greg, it is clear the love and commitment that Staff Sgt. Knauss had for his family and his fellow soldiers was unwavering.

Madam President, I can only tell you that after hearing of Ryan’s dedication to his family and country, it is the hope and prayer of every parent to have a son as honorable and principled as Ryan.

As a father, I told Greg that I could not fathom his grief.

Ryan had hoped soon to become a father himself.  He and Alena had plans to try for their first child when he came back from overseas; and building a nursery was at the top of their home-renovation to-do list for when he got home.

Staff Sgt. Knauss was a steadfast friend.  His own friends spoke of his charm and intelligence at a memorial service at his former high school in Corryton.  He was a charismatic person to whom people were instantly drawn.

Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss was a proud and honorable soldier.  And when his country needed him in such a dire time, he fearlessly answered the call.

Even as a child, Ryan knew his calling was to serve.  In a friend’s elementary school yearbook, Ryan wrote that he wanted to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces, and as a freshman in high school, he signed up for the ROTC program.

As one of his fellow soldiers explained, “This was his dream job, and he took it and ran with it”.

Ryan’s unit, Detachment 10, described it as follows:  “Ryan knew the dangerous situation he was going to, but protecting innocent civilians is one of the values that drove him.  It has been said that life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives, and Ryan had an incredible impact on his family and friends. And thanks to his actions, thousands of children will have the joy of knowing a childhood free from danger and oppression.”

The Bible teaches us that “greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Staff Sgt. Knauss did just that.  He died a hero’s death—he made the ultimate sacrifice for his Nation.  For all of us.

Ryan will be remembered as a selfless and heroic man—a Tennessee volunteer—who, with a servant’s heart, gave everything of himself at just 23 years old for the country that he loved dearly.

I ask that each of you here today join me in continuing to pray for the Knauss family and uplift them in the coming days and months as they lay their soldier to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.