President Thanks Germany-Based Troops for Iraq Service
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2005 "Job well done!" President Bush told troops recently returned from deployments to Iraq today at their home station, Wiesbaden Army Airfield, Germany.
The president thanked soldiers from the 1st Armored Division, the 1st Infantry Division and other units for carrying out their mission in Iraq "with skill and honor" and said he and the American people are grateful for their service.
"I bring you a message from back home," Bush told about 3,000 servicemembers gathered at the airfield. "The American people are grateful to you. Your communities are proud of you. And as you defend the cause of freedom, America stands with you."
Bush extended his appreciation to military families for supporting those in uniform and each other during their loved ones' deployments. "The service and sacrifice of America's military families is vital to our success in the war on terror, and your president is here to tell you I'm proud of our military families as well," he said.
He acknowledged that the troops have done much of the heavy lifting in Iraq, bringing freedom to long-oppressed people and helping make the world safer for America. "You're part of the history of freedom and peace," the president said.
"You know that terrorists will not be stopped by negotiations or concessions or appeals to reason. Terrorists must be confronted and they must be defeated. In this war, there is only one option for victory: We must take the fight to the enemy."
Many of the troops the president addressed served longer in Iraq than they initially planned, Bush acknowledged. In fact, some were boarding planes for their trip home when they learned that their tours of duty were being extended until after Iraq's Jan. 30 elections.
"I know that was a trying time, but no change in plans could shake your resolve," the president told the troops. He cited one sergeant's response to the extension: "We're soldiers and we drive on."
And "drive on" they did, the president said, "proving to a watching world that the United States of America will never retreat to a band a thugs and assassins."
In doing so, Bush said the troops put their own lives to serve their country. "In the war on terror, all of you have taken great risks on my orders, and your service reflects the best qualities of America," he said. "You have been brave in the face of danger, unshakable in the times of testing, and generous to those in need."
For those who were injured in this effort, Bush promised, "a grateful America will do everything we can to help them recover." And for the fallen, who Bush said set an example of "unselfish courage," he noted, "America will honor their names forever."
Bush told the troops their service and sacrifice "will change the world for decades to come," sending a strong message to the Middle East and protecting their fellow Americans. By taking the fight to the enemy, "you are making sure we do not face those enemies at home," he said.
Though difficult times remain ahead, the president said, he has "great confidence in the men and women who wear our uniform" and their commitment to face them head-on.
"With your courage, with your determination and with your skill, the cause of freedom will prevail and we'll achieve the peace that we all want for future generations to come," he said.