Cartwright: Current Generation Ready to be Next ‘Greatest Generation’
By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump
Special to American Forces Press Service
FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla., May 16, 2008 The current generation of warfighters in Iraq and Afghanistan is poised to be the next “greatest generation,” the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here yesterday.
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. James Cartwright talks with retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Richard "Tex" Brown at the 2008 Daedalian Awards dinner at Fort Walton Beach, Fla., May 15, 2008. Cartwright was the keynote speaker, presenting awards to military pilots. Defense Department photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright spoke at the 2008 Daedalian Awards, presenting multiple flying awards during the national fraternity of commissioned military pilots’ dinner.
“We are a nation at war,” Cartwright said. “We made a commitment to this conflict, and we’ve put our national treasure -- our youth -- into this fray. Tonight is an awful lot about a few of the people who represent the thousands who are out there serving every day, all over the world.”
Today’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are prepared to be tomorrow’s leaders, he said.
“These citizen-soldiers, as you watch them, are going to be our nation’s future,” Cartwright said. “When you look at them, you can only be proud.”
The vice chairman said part of the reason for being proud is their commitment to serving the nation.
“They’re going to carry this idea of service through the rest of their lives,” the general said. “The one thing you can see in their eyes every time you meet with them is they are, in fact, going to be this nation’s next ‘greatest generation.’ They are incredible. What they do day in and day out, the pain they bare, the strength they have, should make every mother and father proud.”
The general said the faces he sees when he travels to Iraq and Afghanistan are reflective of the American population, and they’ve learned to be a part of something greater than themselves.
“They represent us in every way, shape and form,” the vice chairman said. “They have figured out very early in their lives that service is something special. To learn that early in life is special.”
Families supporting military members also deserve a collective thank you for their support to the nation, the general said. “The families deserve our praise,” Cartwright said. “They deserve our prayers. They deserve every accolade we can possibly put on them. They keep that thing called family together for us.”
The vice chairman said that being around troops is something he enjoys as a senior leader. “Each of us as leaders gets the opportunity to rub shoulders with these individuals and vicariously live out their attributes and their energy,” he said.
Despite the light moments, Cartwright said, each leader carries a burden when serving during war.
“We each go through the sacrifices. We write the letters. We go to the funerals,” he said. “We become part of the family. We carry the scar tissue for life. It is just part of war.”
Following his comments, Cartwright, the current longest-serving, active-duty Daedalian, presented the Marine Corps Exceptional Pilot Award and statuette to the parents and wife of Maj. Derek Brannon, who is deployed. He also presented the Navy Exceptional Pilot Award to Vice Adm. Staser Holcomb, who accepted on behalf of Lt. Cmdr. William Mallory, and Lts. Thomas Bodine and William Mathis, who all are deployed. Finally, the general presented the Adm. James S. Russell Naval Aviation Flight Safety Award to 4th Marine Aircraft Wing.
Other award recipients were:
-- Chief Warrant Officer Michael Keenan received the Army Exceptional Pilot Award;
-- Lt. Cmdr. Eric Smith received the Coast Guard Exceptional Pilot Award;
-- Capt. Steve Garbe and First Officer Kevin May, pilots for American Airlines, received the Daedalian Civilian Airmanship Award;
-- The Chinook helicopter team received the Daedalian Weapons Systems Award;
-- Capt. Kurt Helphinstine received the Daedalian Air Force Pilot Award;
-- Lt. Gen. Christopher Kelly, Air Mobility Command vice commander, received the Maj. Gen. Benjamin D. Foulois Memorial Award on behalf of AMC; and
-- The 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade received the Brig. Gen. Carl I. Hutton Memorial Award.
(Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump is assigned to the Joint Chiefs of Staff Public Affairs Office.)