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Are there rules about using "that" to join two clauses?

In the sentence below, should there be a 'that' after 'realized'? I was feeling really awkward about the construction here. I have put in the rest for context:

Someone commenting on an article about adulthood at xyz.com said that he realized he had made the 'official' transition to adulthood when as a 20 year old, he boarded his first flight without family or friends. 'I was on a plane headed to a different state, and no one cared', he noted.

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marked as duplicate by KitFox, aedia λ, Thursagen, JSBձոգչ, simchona Aug 26 '11 at 21:02

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The phrase "said [that] he realized [that] he had made" is correct with zero, one, or two "that"s. I like it best with just one "that", with a slight preference for it being in the first position.

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Well good to know all three forms are technically correct, that's where the confusion was coming from . –  M.A Aug 26 '11 at 14:47

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