Myers Salutes Troops, All Who Serve the Nation
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2004 Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accepted the Intrepid Foundation 2004 Freedom Award in New York City Feb. 11 on behalf of America's men and women in uniform.
The nation's service members "serve tirelessly and with great courage and great dedication," Myers said. "They're the ones out there doing the really hard work."
Launched in 1943, the USS Intrepid served the U.S. Navy for 31 years. During World War II, the Intrepid suffered seven bomb attacks, five kamikaze strikes and one torpedo hit; yet it continually returned to action, earning a reputation among the enemy as the "The Ghost Ship."
After World War II, a modernized, angled flight deck enabled the carrier to accommodate jet aircraft. The carrier pulled duty in Vietnam and during the Cold War before it was retired. The Intrepid now is a museum on the Hudson River in Manhattan.
Myers noted that the stakes today in the war on terror are as high as when the Intrepid fought its battles. He said U.S. forces are fighting to defend the same liberties as they have for centuries.
"Terrorists hate our values and our freedoms. They want to destroy our way of life, but we're not going to let that happen," the chairman said.
Myers said today's sailors, soldiers, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and Defense Department civilians display the same courage and dedication as those who served on the Intrepid. They're taking on the enemy 24 hours a day, every day of the year, he added.
"They have performed superbly in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in the Horn of Africa, in the Philippines, and around the world as members of a very effective, joint and multinational team trying to defend this country," he said.
Members of the armed forces understand "probably better than anybody" that the war on terror is going to be a long war, requiring the nation's resolve and commitment," he continued. "They also understand it's a war we must win, because this is their moment to influence the course of history."
Fighting terror presents new challenges for the military, the general noted. Today's enemy is far different from any the nation has previously faced.
"Terrorists recognize no established boundaries, be they territorial or moral," he said. "They're agile, they're adaptable. So we've had to transform our forces, and how we fight just as the Intrepid transformed over the years to be relevant."
Fighting terrorism requires the coordinated efforts of nearly every agency of the U.S. government Defense, State, Homeland Security, Justice, Treasury and Commerce -- along with local, state and federal law enforcement, the chairman said.
"It's very, very wrong," Myers said, "to assume the efforts of the military (alone) can win this war. It's going to take all elements of our power and more than that."
The "more than that," he explained, are those in the civilian community who serve their nation by contributing to the nation's prosperity and through public service. "The best weapon we have in this country is this idea of public service."
With the support and commitment of the civilian community, Myers said, "there is no doubt that we are going to have the patience, resolve and commitment to win this war."