Good afternoon. This ship has a proud name. Almost 42 years ago, when I raised my right hand to be sworn in as a member of the United States Congress, John F. Kennedy was the President of the United States and our Commander-in-Chief.
As a Congressman, I had occasion to visit with President Kennedy from time to time. But if someone had told me back then, 42 years later I would be aboard an aircraft carrier named for President Kennedy and serving as Secretary of Defense for our 43rd president and Commander-in-Chief, it would have been hard to believe.
With this deployment, I understand you are making some history as the Strike Group’s contribution to the global war on terror and extremism, but also the last traps by the Jolly Rogers in Tomcats, the last flight by the Diamond Cutters in S-3’s, and the final sailings of Spruance and Seattle.
Times do change. I know that times change because all the aircraft I flew when I was in the Navy are now in museums. What doesn’t change, however, is the dedication and the patriotism of America’s servicemen and servicewomen.
It’s been a great pleasure for me to be at sea with you today. I thank you for hosting the distinguished Ministers of Defense from 18 nations -- nations that are working so closely with us to win the global war on terror.
So I thank you, and I bid you -- and all the men and women of the Kennedy Strike Group -- “fair winds and following seas.” May God bless you all.