Remarks by the Deputy Secretary of Defense
The Honorable Gordon R. England
POW/ MIA Recognition Day
15 September 2006
Distinguished guests, all … Good morning! Thank you for joining us at the Pentagon today, on this Day of Remembrance, as we pay tribute to some of America’s finest heroes and their families.
General Pace, thank you for the introduction, for your inspiring words, and for your lifetime of service to America. God bless you for your leadership.
· A special thanks to all of you who wear the cloth of this great Nation today, and to all our veterans, including many former POWs, whose service and sacrifices have preserved America’s freedom and liberty.
· To our international partner governments, who remember our heroes and who have been, and are being, so helpful.
· Also, I extend a warm greeting to all the family members and friends of our missing, and all of those working and volunteering to bring our servicemen home again with honor. You all are heroes.
Earlier this week, the Nation marked the very emotional 5th anniversary of 9/11. Here at the Pentagon, we paused to remember all those who perished that day – and all those who have since given their lives in the name of freedom and liberty.
Today, we are gathered again to honor and remember those heroes who served and sacrificed … but have not yet come home.
America does not forget her heroes. Two weeks ago, President Bush said: “We will not forget these brave Americans. We must not rest until we’ve accounted for every soldier, sailor, airman, Coast Guardsman, and Marine. And we will always honor their courage.” This President – and this Nation – remain fully committed to bringing our heroes home again.
Today I have the honor of introducing a good friend and colleague … and a great American - Congressman Rob Simmons.
Congressman Simmons has a long and very distinguished career in public service. I know the Congressman personally –As a member of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees … he has worked to protect and defend this great Nation.
Congressman Simmons is a Vietnam veteran – a Soldier and a Statesman --- who cares deeply about our brave men and women in uniform.
Another great Soldier and Statesman, President Eisenhower, said, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on…a football field, in an army, or in an office.” Or – I might add – in the Congress of the United States, where Congressman Simmons is known for his integrity and for his leadership.
In the effort to bring all of our servicemen and women home again with honor, Congressman Simmons is literally blazing the trail. Just a few years ago, he – and his wife Heidi – went to Vietnam and joined our search teams, in the jungles, looking for answers.
In 1972, CPT Arnie Holm - who was from the district Congressman Simmons now represents – went down in an Army helicopter in Vietnam. Everyone on board – CPT Holm, Spec 4 Robin Yeakley, and PFC Wayne Bibbs – has been unaccounted for, ever since. With strong support from Representative Simmons, search teams have persevered. Now, there is a hopeful new outlook. This past summer, a search team discovered the spot in the jungle where the servicemen may have fallen. We are not completely certain, but are hopeful that this will prove to be the correct location, and that it will lead to bringing these heroes home again.
Congressman Simmons – the American people are grateful for your patriotism, your tireless service, and your dedication to bringing all of our men and women home with honor. And we are grateful for your continuing support for all of the courageous men and women in uniform who protect and defend our great nation, every day.
It is with greatest pleasure that I introduce to you – Congressman Rob Simmons --