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Troop Talk Aboard the USS McCampbell (DDG-85)
As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Singapore, Sunday, June 4, 2006, Sunday, June 04, 2006

Thank you so much, Commander McBeth.  And I guess you have folks here from, what, five separate ships.  Is that right?

Look, it's warm here, and I'm not going to keep you out here long.  I do want to be able to just say thank you so much to each of you for your service to the country, for making an important decision to volunteer to defend our country.  I congratulate those who have just been promoted.  I congratulate those who have just reenlisted.  I thank all of you for your service in the Gulf and what you've been doing for our nation.

It's hard to believe it, but the first time I was aboard a Navy ship was in Bremerton, Washington, when they commissioned a baby flat top, I think it was 1942 or 1943, I was 10 or 11.  And my father served on the carrier in World War II.  And I've been aboard ships a lot since 1942 or '43, and it's a different life, it's a special life, it's a way of life.  And I know that each of you who have experienced it understand how special it is.  And I'm here to look you in the eye and thank you for your service to the country.

I remember my father was in the real estate business in Chicago.  He'd never been in the Navy.  He was an old man.  He was 40 years old, had a wife and two kids.  He volunteered to go in the Navy.  And within a matter of some months, he was the officer of the deck of an aircraft carrier in the Pacific during a war.

Someone said to him, "How in the world did do you that?  How can somebody who doesn't know anything about it coming from a state like Illinois, not on an ocean, end up in the Navy as officer of the deck?"  And he said, "It's not complicated."  He said, "Chief petty officers, that's how you do it."

Let's see the hands of these chief petty officers.  Where are they?

We're here for a conference.  The conference is ending.  It's been a terrific conference with, I don't know, 20 or 25 ministers of Defense from this part of the world.  It's an important part of the world.  We're a Pacific nation, as you know, and what happens here is enormously important for the world.  The importance of peace and stability and prosperity for the people of this region is something that you contribute to, and we appreciate it.

So, I thank you all.  I wish you the best, and Godspeed.  Thank you very much.