Biden Praises Kaneohe Bay Marines, Families
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 26, 2011 Vice President Joe Biden visited Marine Corps Base Hawaii late yesterday to thank members of the 3rd Marine Regiment, some preparing to deploy to Afghanistan, and to pledge continued support for them and their families.
Vice President Joe Biden speaks to Marines, sailors and their families on Marine Corps Base Kaneohe, Hawaii, Aug. 25, 2011. Biden, who also took time to greet troops and pose for photographs, stopped in Hawaii after a nine-day trip to Asia to meet with key leaders. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jacob D. Barber
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Stopping at Kaneohe Bay after wrapping up his trip to China, Mongolia and Japan, Biden praised the “whole hangar-ful of heroes” that have sacrificed heavily during the past decade of conflict.
“You sacrifice an incredible amount for your country,” the vice president told the Marines, many of whom have deployed as many as five times into combat. “Never before has our nation asked as much of an all-volunteer force as we have asked of you.”
Biden noted that only 1 percent of Americans volunteer to serve their country in uniform. “That 1 percent is made up of the most extraordinary men and women this country has ever known, and you are among them,” he told the assembly. “You are simply the very best America has, and I want to thank you.”
Biden noted the many heroes within the 3rd Marines. Among them is former Cpl. Dakota Myer, who next month will become the first living Marine to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, for actions in Afghanistan. And, Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua Epps donated bone marrow in May to save the life of an 8-year-old girl. That spurred 369 more sailors and spouses to follow suit and sign up for a bone marrow registry.
Watching U.S. service members in action, Biden said he’s been amazed at how little they ask in return. “You never ask for a damned thing,” he said. “But we owe you a lot.”
The United States has a sacred obligation to provide its service members with everything necessary to accomplish their missions when they’re deployed into harm’s way, Biden said, and also “to guarantee you everything we can when you return to make you and your families whole.”
It’s an obligation, Biden said, that will extend long after the current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan end as the United States provides continued support for its veterans, particularly the wounded, their families and families of the fallen.
Biden noted efforts under way to provide that support. Among them, he said, are better Veterans Affairs Department funding, improved care for post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries and other “signature wounds of the 9/11 generation,” as well as new post-9/11 G.I Bill benefits and new caregiver benefits.
As he thanked the Marines for their service, Biden paid a special tribute to service members’ family members.
“Without them, you would not be able to do what you are doing,” he told the assembled service members.
Biden shared his own family’s emotional struggles as they dealt with his son’s deployment to Iraq, and said many Americans have “no idea what your families are going through,” particularly during multiple deployments.
“No generation of families had had to endure this repeatedly,” he said. “America owes them.”