President Rallies Troops at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa
Remarks by the President to Socom and Centcom Community
Macdill Air Force Base
10:42 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, all. (Applause.) Thank you, all. Thank you, all, very much. General Delong, thanks for such a kind introduction.
Laura and I are really proud to be here with the good men and women of CENTCOM and MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. (Applause.)
We are pleased to see so many family members who are here. We want to —— (applause) —— we thank you for coming. And I want you to know your nation appreciates your commitment and your sacrifice in the cause of peace and freedom. (Applause.)
We're also proud to be here today with our friends and allies, representative of the 48 nations across the world who have joined America in Operation Iraqi Freedom. (Applause.) Over the last week the world has witnessed the skill and honor and resolve of our military in the course of battle. We have seen the character of this new generation of American Armed Forces. We've seen their daring against ruthless enemies and their decency to an oppressed people. Millions of Americans are proud of our military, and so am I. I am honored to be the Commander-in-Chief. (Applause.)
I appreciate very much General Peter Pace, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who has joined us from Washington, D.C. today. He is representative of the caliber of our generals. He's one of the finest people I know. I'm proud you're here, General Pace. Thank you for representing the Marine Corps so well, and all the fighting men and women. (Applause.)
I'm proud, also, to be here with Charles Holland, Commander of SOCOM —— (applause), the Wing Commander of MacDill Air Force Base, Colonel Tanker
Snyder. (Applause.) He told me that was his given name, Tanker. (Laughter.) That's a heck of a name, Tanker. (Laughter.)
Of course, I'm really proud of your Governor. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: God bless you, sir! (Laughter and applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: I want to thank members of the Florida congressional delegation who flew down with us today on Air Force One, starting with the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, a Floridian committed to making sure our military has what it takes to win war and, therefore, be able to keep the peace —— the Chairman, Bill Young. (Applause.) As well, Congressman Jim Davis, Mike Bilirakis, Adam Putnam and Katherine Harris came down today. (Applause.) I know we've got some of the Mayors from the local area here, Rick Baker, Brian Aungst and my old buddy, Dick Greco, the Mayor of
Tampa, Florida —— for being here. (Applause.) I want to thank everybody in uniform who is here today —— thank you for your service, your sacrifice, and your love of America. (Applause.) I appreciate the members of the United States Coast Guard who are here today. (Applause.) Our Coast Guard is deployed in the Middle East, at the same time it protects this homeland of ours. And you're doing a fine job on behalf of the American people, all up and down the coastlines of this great country.
I want to thank members of the Florida Army National Guard who are here. (Applause.) And I suspect we might have a few veterans —— (applause)
—— as well as retired members of our military. I want to thank you all for your service, for setting such a clear example for future generations of
those who wear our uniform. I think you'll agree that our military is not letting you down when it comes to upholding the great tradition of peace through strength. (Applause.)
One of the problems with being the President is you always end up being the last guy here. (Laughter.) So I'm sorry I didn't get to hear Toby Keith and Daryl Worley. But I want to thank you all for coming and providing your talents today in support of —— support of our efforts to make the world a more peaceful place. I also want to thank Chaplain Stone. I appreciate your words of prayer for our men and women in uniform, especially for
your prayers for the loved ones of American and British troops whose lives were lost.
People across this country are praying. They are praying that they hope those families and loved ones will find comfort and grace in their sorrow. We pray that God will bless and receive each of the fallen, and we thank God that liberty found such brave defenders. (Applause.)
At MacDill Air Force Base, I know you're proud of a certain Army general who couldn't —— (applause) —— who couldn't be with us today on the account of some pressing business. (Laughter and applause.) Tommy Franks has my respect, the respect of our military, and the thanks of the United States of America. (Applause.)
MacDill is the Command Center of our Special Operations Forces —— (applause) —— the silent warriors who were first on the ground —— were first on the ground there in Iraq. And here at CENTCOM, you coordinate the work of a grand coalition that is disarming a dangerous enemy and freeing a proud people. (Applause.)
Every nation in our coalition understands the terrible threat we face from weapons of mass destruction. Every nation represented here refuses to live in a future of fear, at the mercy of terrorists and tyrants. And every nation here today shares the same resolve: We will be relentless in our pursuit of victory. (Applause.)