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First Lady Thanks Troops for Sacrifices

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2007 – First lady Laura Bush visited troops in Kuwait today to thank them for their service, calling them a force for good in the Middle East. (Video)

Click photo for screen-resolution image
First lady Laura Bush greets U.S. Air Force Col. Brian O'Connor, vice commander of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing, in Kuwait, Oct. 24, 2007. The visit highlighted the accomplishments of the Middle East Partnership Initiative programs of the State Department. Defense Dept. photo by Staff Sgt. Tia Schroeder, U.S. Air Force

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

“At the heart of your mission to protect America's freedom is securing the freedom of others,” Bush told the troops. “Because of our men and women in uniform, 50 million people who once lived in tyranny can now choose the future direction of their countries and their own lives.”

Bush noted that the U.S. troops, from the Army’s Task Force 1146 and the Air Force’s 386th Air Expeditionary Group, provide top-notch missile defense, combat rescue and support, medical evacuation, air surveillance, and supply services to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each year, more than 700,000 military personnel move there on their way to and from Iraq and Afghanistan, she said, and the soldiers and airmen move them efficiently and professionally.

U.S. troops in the Middle East are building a foundation of friendship between America and countries in the region, Bush said. Because of the sacrifices troops made in the early 1990s, Kuwait now is a prosperous nation making important strides toward democracy, she said. During a meeting yesterday with Kuwaiti political leaders, Bush said, an official told her, “We will never, ever forget” America's liberation of Kuwait. “It's engraved in our hearts and in our history books.”

Bush’s trip to the Middle East is to promote the U.S.-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness Research. She said troops in the Middle East are helping make things like this possible and helping people of the region improve their lives.

“With your courage and compassion, you show that the United States military is one of the greatest forces for good in the world,” Bush told the troops.

Bush recounted several stories of compassion and bravery by U.S. troops in the Middle East, such as two officers who helped save the lives of two Kuwaiti civilians in a car accident, troops who coordinated medical care for an Iraqi boy with a serious condition, and an Army Reserve staff sergeant who stopped a suicide bomber in Afghanistan.

“Across the Middle East and around the world, many stories of compassion and self-sacrifice we hear,” the first lady said. “When Americans hear these stories, we think of them as extraordinary acts of heroism. To the men and women in our armed forces, they're just all in a day's work.”

Bush reminded the troops that Americans understand and appreciate the sacrifices they make. She said that she and President Bush get letters from people who say they’re proud of the troops and believe in them.

“If you want the real measure of how Americans feel about you and your mission, listen for the love and pride in phone calls from your families,” she said. “Read the encouragement in e-mails from your friends. Read the stories in the news, the ones about the Main Street parades organized to honor hometown heroes.”

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