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General Praises Troops, Thanks Americans for Support

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2006 – The commander of Multinational Division Baghdad expressed thanks today to the American people for supporting U.S. troops in Iraq and their families and urged Americans to recognize the contributions and sacrifices servicemembers are making.

Army Maj. Gen. James Thurman offered special thanks to the people of Central Texas, where he and soldiers of his Fort Hood-based 4th Infantry Division will return after their deployment to Iraq.

Speaking to Pentagon reporters from Baghdad, Thurman praised his troops for the contributions they're making toward Iraq's future. As part of Multinational Division Baghdad, they and Iraqi and coalition forces are helping to maintain security in the capital city as Iraq's new unity government forms.

"Our soldiers have risen to the challenge and are performing like champions in one of the most complex and demanding environments that I have seen," he said. "Our nation can take pride today in the selfless service and professionalism and courage of the great men and women I have the honor and privilege to serve with every day."

With a long family history of military service -- his grandfather served in World War I, his father and three uncles in World War II and Korea, and his brother in Vietnam -- Thurman has a deep understanding of the sacrifices that service sometimes requires.

Today he paid tribute to Staff Sgt. Jerry Durbin, a 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, soldier killed Jan. 25 "leading from the front while saving his men." The 26-year-old soldier and his dismounted squad encountered a daisy-chained improvised explosive device that detonated as Durban tried to deactivate it.

"His selfless service demonstrates the soldiers we have serving today, and I ask we never forget that," Thurman said.

During an interview with the Fort Hood Sentinel, Thurman said he remembers lessons his grandfather taught him growing up in rural Marietta, Okla., that he carries with him to this day. "He didn't talk much about being in war, and he didn't ask for medals or recognition," Thurman said. "He made me realize early in life that the liberties and freedom we enjoy are not free."

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Maj. Gen. James Thurman, USA

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