Parade Honoring Retiring Senator John Warner and Congressman Duncan Hunter (Ft. Myer, VA)
As Prepared for Delivery by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Whipple Field, Fort Myer, Virginia, Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Secretary Geren, General Cartwright.
I am honored to take part in this public celebration of two legislative lions, Senator John Warner of Virginia and Congressman Duncan Hunter of California. They are both tireless advocates of a strong military – friends that the Department of Defense will certainly miss. While we are reluctant to let them go, they have certainly earned a rest after a job so well and so selflessly done.
Senator Warner has introduced me to the United States Senate for confirmation four times. The first time was 22-and-a-half years ago. That dates us both. He is a great Virginian, a great senator, and a great American. A naval petty officer in World War Two, a Marine in Korea, and Under Secretary and Secretary of the Navy, John Warner had a exceptional record of service to country long before entering Congress. During his five terms in the Senate, he could often be found at the center of tough negotiations between the Congress and the Executive Branch on matters of great import to our country. His counsel was always wise, his advice invaluable. Beyond politics and beyond the distractions of the day, he always made sure the results reached were in the best interest of the people of the United States of America. And in the best interests of our men and women in uniform.
Representative Hunter, a recipient of the Bronze Star during his service in Vietnam, has shown great devotion to our armed forces ever since his time as a paratrooper in the Army. He’s been more than energetic, especially when the need has been urgent. For example, in early 2004, he sent members of his Armed Services Committee staff to push steelmakers to expedite the manufacturing of parts needed to armor Humvees. As a result, 7,000 add-on armor kits were finished by May 2004, seven months ahead of the Army’s schedule. I am told that Representative Hunter even did some field testing of his own. Whenever the Department of Defense has been in need of resources, Duncan Hunter has been there. He has truly been a champion of our nation’s defense and of all our men and women in uniform.
Senator Warner, Congressman Hunter, thank you for your remarkable careers in public service. On behalf of the entire Department of Defense, and especially our men and women in uniform about whom you both love so deeply, thank you for all you have done to protect America.