Bush Encourages Troops During California Stop
By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 17, 2001 Men and women in uniform are the true strength of the United States, President George W. Bush told troops and their families Oct. 17.
President Bush addresses a flightline audience at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., a whistle stop en route to China. The crowd erupted with applause when Bush exclaimed, "We will not fail!" in talking about U.S involvement in Operation Enduring Freedom during his visit Oct. 17, 2001. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Verchio, USAF.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Speaking to a loud crowd at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., the commander in chief echoed themes he's been emphasizing since Sept. 11: America hasn't been beaten, and nations or groups that harbor terrorists are terrorists themselves as far as America is concerned.
Planes and crews from Travis carried rescue workers and equipment to New York City and the Pentagon in the days after Sept. 11, and military personnel from Travis are currently deployed to undisclosed locations to assist in the war on terrorism.
While repeatedly being interrupted by cheers, Bush said the planes and equipment aren't what make America great. "Our real strength (is) the people who fly 'em and who maintain 'em, the people who make the military go," he said.
Bush also thanked military family members for their sacrifices. "To those of you whose mom or dad or husband or wife has been deployed, I want you to know that they're on a noble mission," Bush said. "The cause is just. And we will win."
Bush related a story he'd been told about a pilot, referred to only as Randy, being asked if any of the Travis personnel had personal connections to victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. "I think we all do; they're all Americans," Bush quoted Randy as saying. "And when you strike one American, you strike us all."
The terrorists were instruments of evil, and America will defeat terror throughout the world, Bush said. "And not only will we find the terrorists, we will enforce the doctrine that says if you harbor a terrorist, you're a terrorist; if you feed a terrorist, you're a terrorist; if you fund a terrorist, you're a terrorist; and this great, proud nation of free men and women will hold you just as responsible for the actions that take place on American soil," he added to screams of support.
Bush said Al Qaeda has learned that anyone who strikes America will hear from its military "and they're not going to like what they hear."
But he also took the opportunity to again stress that the innocent people of Afghanistan are not military targets. "They're not our enemy, nor is any religion the enemy of the United States of America," Bush said. "I want to assure the people of the world that our military fights not against Moslems. We fight against evil people.
"We fight against people who believe that they can harm the United States of America," he said.
He again stressed that America is in for the long haul. "We are determined. We are patient. We are steadfast. We are resolved. We will not tire, and we will not fail," Bush said to ever-louder cheers.
The president said he has the utmost confidence in the military and that they must have confidence in his commitment to them. "For the mission that lies ahead, our military -- the men and women who wear our uniform -- will have everything you need to win, every resource, every weapon, every means to assure full victory for the United States and our allies and our friends in the cause of freedom," he said.
Bush stopped in California on his way to Shanghai, China, where he will attend the Asia Pacific Economic Conference. This is the first time he has left the country since before Sept. 11.
Toward the end of his speech Bush told another anecdote about a four-year-old boy whose dad is a cargo specialist deployed from Travis. "According to his mom, the boy has been telling the neighbors that Daddy's saving the world," Bush said. "The boy is right. The future of the world is at stake; freedom is at stake. But I want to tell that boy his daddy has got plenty of help."
The best homeland defense is "to find (the terrorists) and bring them to justice," Bush said. "And that's exactly what our nation will do."