President Praises Military for Taking on the 'Hardest Duty'
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2004 President Bush praised service members around the world for their sacrifices to defend America during his State of the Union address tonight.
He said that the men and women of the American armed forces "have taken the hardest duty" in the war on terror. He added that hundreds of thousands of U.S. service members are based around the world protecting America.
"We've seen their skill and their courage in armored charges, and midnight raids and lonely hours on faithful watch," Bush said at the U.S. Capitol. "We have seen the joy when they return, and felt the sorrow when one is lost."
The president said he had a special message for the many soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines listening to the speech. "I want you and your families to know America is proud of you," he pointed out. "And my administration and this Congress will give you the resources you need to fight and win the war on terror."
Senators, House members, Cabinet secretaries everyone in the House of Representatives chamber rose and gave a sustained standing ovation in response.
Bush said that America is a nation with a mission that comes from Americans' most basic beliefs. "We have no desire to dominate, no ambitions of empire," he said. "Our aim is a democratic peace a peace founded upon the dignity and rights of every man and woman. America acts in this cause with friends and allies at our side, yet we understand our special calling: This great republic will lead the cause of freedom."
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers attended the speech, as did the members of the Joints Chiefs: Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Michael Hagee.
Also attending as special guests of first lady Laura Bush were a number of service members recently returned from Operation Iraqi Freedom. Marine Sgt. Dawn M. Campbell of Madison, Wis., now stationed at Henderson Hall, Va., served as a convoy commander in Iraq with the 2nd Transportation Support Battalion.
Army Chief Warrant Officer Stephen Douglas Combs Jr. of Fall River, Mass., is assigned to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment with headquarters at Fort Campbell, Ky. He helped in the raids that captured Saddam Hussein.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Clinton W. Smith Jr. of Forestville, Md., returned from Baghdad in October, where he served with the 447th Air Expeditionary Group.
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Stephen M. Kuczirka of Cincinnati returned from the Arabian Gulf Jan. 16.
Army Spc. Matthew Moss of Oxnard, Calif., a Florida National Guardsman, is a combat medic with the 3rd Battalion of the 124th Infantry. He returned from Baghdad in November due to injuries sustained in action.
Army Staff Sgt. Joey M. Wommack of Garland, Texas, is a cavalry scout platoon sergeant with G Troop, 10th Cavalry, 4th Infantry Division. He arrived from Iraq Jan. 4 and is scheduled to return there later this month.