CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
“Ooh-Rah” echoed through the air as Commander in Chief, Barack Obama, took the stage to address thousands of service members and their families at the air station here Aug. 7.
Obama discussed many topics like the war in Afghanistan and the wounded warrior program. He also expressed his appreciation for the armed services.
“My family and I have a special place in our hearts for the Marine Corps,” said Obama. “The more Marines that I am around, the better I like them. I see your honor, I see your courage, and I see your commitment; whether you are protecting our diplomatic posts around the world, preparing to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan, or recovering from wounds you received in battle.”
Just as Obama said he was happy to see the Marines, the crowd roared with applause and cheers for their commander in chief.
“I think it is pretty exciting for the president to come out here. We always see him on T.V., so for him to be here in person is pretty cool,” said Cpl. Randall Kerry, an assaultman with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion.
Obama began his speech with information about the war in Afghanistan, which has become America's longest war.
“I am here because, for more than a decade, you and all our men and women in uniform have worn the burden in this time of war,” said Obama. “We have recently marked another milestone in this war. As of this past year, it is the first time the Afghan forces have taken the lead in security across their entire country. What that signals is that our war in Afghanistan has entered its final chapter; more troops are coming home. We will be down to 34,000 this winter, by the beginning of next year the transition will be complete. Afghans will take full responsibility of their security and our war in Afghanistan will be over.”
Obama credited the accomplishments of the war to the service members and showed his appreciation, stating that none of this progress would have been possible without them, especially the Camp Pendleton Marines.
“When future generations study those fights, they will stand in awe of the unparalleled sacrifice of the 3rd battalion 5th Marines,” said Obama. “Because of you, the 9/11 generation, we are accomplishing what we set out to do. Because of you Osama bin Laden is no more, the core of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakastan is on their way to defeat, that happened because of you. Because of you the Afghans are training and stepping up to defend their own country. Because of you we are going to make sure that (Afghanistan) is never again a source of attack against our country.”
Obama also took time to remember the service members who have lost their lives during this time of war.
“Today we hold close the memory of all who made the ultimate sacrifice, this includes 326 fallen heroes from Camp Pendleton,” said Obama. “We honor all of them and we stand with their families. We are grateful to them, they have given a piece of their heart to America and America will always honor the sacrifice.”
The wounded warriors program was another topic of discussion during the visit.
“Here at Pendleton you are doing outstanding work with your wounded warriors,” said Obama. “For those who can, we want to get our troops back to where they want to be, back to their units. For those with traumatic brain injuries, we are going to keep making investments in new care and treatments, for those suffering from post traumatic stress we are going to keep saying, as loud as we can, it is not a sign of weakness to ask for help; it is a sign of strength.”
The Marines in the audience appreciated the chance to see Obama and hear what is in store for the Marine Corps in the future.
“I think it is a great thing for him to be here,” said Sgt. Maj. Rudy Arietta, sergeant major of 3rd Marine Air Wing. “He is obviously very knowledgeable about the Military and the Marines, and it means a lot for the Marines to see him come and address them.”
The commander in chief wrapped up his visit with a reminder of what the nation stands for.
“The United States is never going to retreat from the world, we don’t get terrorized,” said Obama. “We are gonna keep standing up to our enemies. We’re gonna keep standing up for the security of our citizens. We’re gonna keep standing up for human rights and dignity for people wherever they live, and like generations before us, the United States of America is going to remain the greatest force of freedom the world has ever known.”