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Bush Salutes Camp Pendleton Marines, Families

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7, 2004 – The nation's commander in chief traveled to Camp Pendleton, Calif., today to thank the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force "for serving our country in a time when we need you."

President Bush praised the "Devil Dogs" for serving "with valor and integrity" in the war on terror, "from the caves and mountains of Afghanistan to the deserts and cities of Iraq." In recent days, Bush said the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force "has once again shown America's purpose and resolve," in Fallujah, Iraq, as they "took that city back from the terrorists and the insurgents."

"In the battle for Fallujah, the terrorists hid weapons in a cemetery, they hid ammunition in private homes, they hid bombs in mosques," the president told the cheering crowd of Marines and family members. "But they could not hide from the United States Marines."

Bush said the Marines' "courage, determination and devotion to duty" have made them "one of the most feared and respected fighting forces in the world" that has dealt "a severe blow" to the enemy.

"And in these dangerous times when terrorists seek to harm our families and murder free citizens, Americans are thankful that the Marines are on the front line taking the fight to the enemy," he said.

Bush said there's no occasion like the holidays to express this appreciation to U.S. servicemembers and their families.

"In a time when Americans stop to count their blessings, I want you to know one of America's greatest blessings is the men and women who wear our nation's uniform," the president said.

He acknowledged that wartime demands sacrifices from military families as well as servicemembers. "Being left behind when a loved one goes to war is one of the hardest jobs in the military, and it is especially hard during the holidays," Bush said.

The president thanked families at Camp Pendleton for enduring long separations caused by military deployments, and reminded them that "in carrying out these burdens, you also serve your country and America is grateful for your service."

Bush said the United States also will remain steadfast in supporting men and women who have been injured in the line of duty. "And America will show that same sense of duty," he said. "We will provide the best possible medical care for every American servicemember wounded in action."

Similarly, Bush said the country will never forgot those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and will stand by their families. "Words can go only so far in capturing the grief and sense of loss for the families of those who have died," he said. "But you can know this: They gave their lives for a cause that is just, and their sacrifice will have spared millions from lives of tyranny and sorrow."

The president assured the Camp Pendleton group that the coalition will persist in Iraq until it achieves victory. Important work remains ahead, he said, "yet the outcome is assured."

Success in Iraq "will make America safer for us and for future generations," he said, and help prevent any future attack on U.S. soil.

"That's why we're on the offensive today in Fallujah and Mosul, Ramadi and North Babil," Bush said. "We're getting after the terrorists. We're disrupting their plans. We're holding state sponsors of terror equally responsible for terrorist acts. We're working to prevent outlaw regimes from gaining weapons of mass murder and providing them to terrorists."

And Bush said the effort will continue until the threat is removed. "We will stay at these efforts with patience and revolve," the president said. "And we will prevail."

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Camp Pendleton, Calif.
1st Marine Expeditionary Force

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