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Bush Confers With, Praises Troops Back from Iraq, Afghanistan

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 29, 2006 – President Bush conferred yesterday with troops recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, telling them the nation appreciates their service as they and their comrades protect the freedoms all Americans enjoy.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
President Bush talks with Army Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Williams as he meets with military personnel who recently have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan at the VFW Overland-St. Ann Memorial Post 3944 in St. Louis, June 28. White House photo by Kimberlee He
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The president met with about 10 soldiers and airmen - representatives of the active force, National Guard and Reserves -- at a VFW post in St. Louis.

He chatted with the troops about their experiences, asked for their insights and told them they're serving an important calling.

"I told these men and women that their service is necessary for the security of the United States of America, and that they're serving in historic times," Bush said of his meeting. "And one day their children will be able to look back and say, my dad, or my mom went to Iraq and Afghanistan and helped a young country become a democracy, and therefore the world is more peaceful for it."

Bush met with the troops' families as well to express gratitude for the sacrifices he acknowledged they also make. "A lot of times military families don't get proper thanks, and I can't wait to meet your loved ones and tell them firsthand that the country appreciates your service," he told the servicemembers before the meeting.

The nation "stands with people who are defending our nation," the president told the troops. "We're with you. We know the work is hard, but the work is necessary."

Bush was emphatic about one point: "We're winning."

"And the world is going to be better off because of your courageous service, and I thank you for it," he said.

The president met during the visit with:

  • Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Jefferson, who returned from Iraq in November 2005;
  • Air Force Maj. Josh Kovich, who served in Afghanistan from December 2005 to June 2006;
  • Air Force Capt. Bill Roberts, who served in Iraq from September 2005 to April 2006;
  • Army Spc. Andrew Cline, a member of the Illinois Army National Guard, who served in Iraq, from April 2005 to May 2006;
  • Army Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Williams, an Army Reservist who served in Iraq from January 2005 to October 2005;
  • Air Force Staff Sgt. Todd Carlton, who served in Iraq from August 2005 to April 2006;
  • Air Force Senior Airman Joe Mata, who served in Iraq from September 2004 to February 2005 and in Kuwait from October 2005 to May 2006;
  • Air Force Senior Airman Rebecca Blascak, who served in Kuwait from November 2005 to January 2006;
  • Army Spc. Alan Young, an Illinois Army National Guard soldier who served in Iraq from April 2005 to May 2006; and
  • Army Sgt. Craig Durham, an Army Reservist who served in Iraq from May 2005 to May 2006.
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