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President Praises Troops on Front Lines of Terror War

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29, 2006 – There’s no doubt of victory in the terror war -- not just because the United States is committed to seeing it through, but also because of the quality of the troops carrying it out, President Bush told the Reserve Officers Association here today.

“We can have confidence in the outcome of the war on terror, because our nation is determined,” the president said. “We’ve done this kind of hard work before, and we have succeeded.”

Bush offered special recognition to servicemembers on the front lines of that effort. “We can be confident because we’ve got incredible men and women who wear our nation’s uniform,” he said. “I am constantly amazed at the incredible courage that our fellow citizens who wear the uniform show on a regular basis.”

The president held up two prime examples of that courage, demonstrated by two Navy SEALs killed in Afghanistan in June 2005. Petty Officers 2nd Class Matthew G. Axelson and Danny P. Dietz were part of a SEAL team operating deep in the mountains of Afghanistan on a mission to kill or capture a Taliban leader. Shortly after they were discovered, they found themselves surrounded in a mountain ravine by 30 to 40 Taliban fighters.

“During the firefight that ensued, Axelson urged an injured teammate to escape, and he provided cover before suffering a mortal wound,” Bush told the group. “Fighting nearby, his partner Deetz was also mortally wounded, but he too stood his ground and kept firing until … he finally died.”

The president praised the two as heroes. “Because of the courage of Petty Officers Axelson and Deetz, their wounded teammate made it out alive,” he said.

During a ceremony earlier this month in which the two sailors posthumously received the Navy Cross, Deetz’s wife spoke of her husband and his comrades in arms, Bush told the group. “She said, ‘Danny and his brothers went toward evil and ran forward and gave their last breath,’” Bush said.

Axelson and Deetz demonstrated the mettle of the U.S. armed forces, the president said. “We live in freedom because of the courage of men like Matthew and Danny,” he said. “And we will honor their sacrifice by completing this mission.”

The United States and its allies and partners around the world are engaged in a struggle against violent extremists that “will help determine the destiny of the civilized world,” Bush said.

“We've borne these responsibilities before, and we have seen our faith in freedom vindicated by history,” he said. “In this young century, a new generation of Americans is being called to defend liberty. And once again, the cause of liberty and peace will prevail.”

During today’s remarks, Bush paid tribute to those in the audience who serve in the military, including patients from Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in Washington, and the National Naval Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md. “I thank you for your sacrifice,” he told them.

Bush also expressed thanks to the medical professionals from the two hospitals for helping troops wounded in combat recover from their wounds. “It gives me great comfort to be able to tell the loved ones of those who wear our uniform that, ‘If you get hurt, you will receive first class, compassionate care from the United States military,’” he said. “And so, to the healers who are here, thank you for doing your duty and providing these brave folks the help they need to recover.”

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