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Gates Pays Tribute to Wilson Legacy in Afghanistan

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2010 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today remembered former Rep. Charlie Wilson, a 12-term Congressman from Texas, as “an extraordinary patriot” for his work in liberating Afghanistan from Soviet occupation.

Wilson, who led the effort to arm Afghans against the Soviet Union in the 1980s when Gates was CIA director, died yesterday at 76. Wilson was profiled the 2007 movie, "Charlie Wilson's War."

Gates released the following statement in remembrance of Wilson:

"I had the unforgettable experience of knowing Congressman Wilson when I was at CIA and he was working tirelessly on behalf of the Afghan resistance fighting the Soviets. As the world now knows, his efforts and exploits helped repel an invader, liberate a people, and bring the Cold War to a close. After the Soviets left, Charlie kept fighting for the Afghan people and warned against abandoning that traumatized country to its fate -- a warning we should have heeded then, and should remember today.

"America has lost an extraordinary patriot whose life showed, once more, that one brave and determined person can alter the course of history. My condolences to Barbara and the rest of the Wilson family."

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