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President Bush Rallies Sailors at Florida Base

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2003 – President Bush rallied America's military members today, telling them "great tasks lie ahead" during a visit to Naval Station Mayport, near Jacksonville, Fla.

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President George W. Bush shares a light moment after lunch with sailors aboard the USS Philippine Sea at Naval Station Mayport in Mayport, Fla., Thursday, Feb. 13, 2003. White House photo by Eric Draper.

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"In this challenging period for our country, great tasks lie ahead for the Navy and for our entire military," Bush told cheering Mayport

sailors and family members. "And I know we can depend on you, because this United States military is second to none."

Many of the station's sailors and pilots served several months of 2002 in the Arabian Sea supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, and others were part of the USS Enterprise Carrier Battle Group when they were "among the first ships in the Afghan theater," Bush noted.

The president carried goodwill wishes to the troops from the American public, saying Americans admire and pray for service members and their families. "Our people in uniform and families deserve our gratitude," he added. "And you deserve our support."

He said 2003's "largest increase in defense spending in a generation" and another proposed increase in 2004 will bring the military improved housing, pay and training.

"With the support of this Congress, I will make sure that our military has every resource, every weapon, everything you need to defend America and to keep the peace," Bush said.

He told the sailors they and their peers are being called on to defeat a new kind of enemy. "This enemy reaches across oceans. It targets the innocent. There are no rules of war for these cold-blooded killers. They seek biological and chemical and nuclear weapons to commit murder on a massive scale," the president said.

"This enemy will not be restrained by mercy or by conscience, (but) this enemy will be stopped," he added, to thunderous applause. "And it'll be stopped by the might and will of the United States and our friends and our allies."

The gravest danger America and the world face today is the threat from "outlaw regimes" that seek or possess weapons of mass destruction, Bush said.

"We saw what terrorists could do with four airplanes," he said, adding that the United States will not wait to see what they can do with weapons of mass destruction.

"We have an obligation to protect America and the Americans," Bush said. "We understand our responsibility, and jointly, we'll protect America and its friends and allies from these thugs."

The president also had a specific message for the military family members present and around the world. "Family members serve and sacrifice for our nation. Each one of you knows that Navy life is rewarding. But it can be dangerous; it can be difficult," Bush said. "Every day our military families are putting America's interests first, and America thanks you."

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Remarks by the President at Naval Station Mayport

Click photo for screen-resolution imagePresident George W. Bush speaks to sailors in front of the USS Philippine Sea at Naval Station Mayport in Mayport, Fla., Thursday, Feb. 13, 2003. White House photo by Eric Draper.   
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