President Bush visits Charleston, rallies military
By Tech. Sgt. Ben Gonzales, Air Force Print News
/ Published October 31, 2006
Charleston Air Force Base -- President George W. Bush met and spoke to a crowd of more than 4,000 servicemembers and families as he praised the military for their efforts fighting the war on terrorism Oct. 28 at a rally on the Charleston AFB flightline.
The president's visit follows an Oct. 27 stopover by Vice President Dick Cheney.
"The American people respect you, they appreciate you, and I will do everything in my power to make sure the families and those who wear the uniform have all the support necessary to win this war on terror," President Bush said.
Addressing the ongoing war in Iraq, the president said, "We are in Iraq to help that young democracy fight off the radicals and extremists. We are in the fight in Iraq to make sure it is not a safe haven from which to launch further attacks on the United States. Our plan for victory is to make sure Iraq can defend itself and govern itself and sustain itself.
"If the United States of America were to leave before the job is done, the enemy would follow us here," said the president, who spoke in front of five C-17 Globemaster IIIs. "And that is why we will support our military. And that is why we will fight in Iraq. And that is why we will win in Iraq."
In the crowd were Airmen from Charleston AFB as well as Sailors from Naval Weapons Station Charleston.
Speaking directly to the servicemembers, the president said, "I thank you for being part of this noble and just and important cause. We are fighting a war that will set the course of a new century. The outcome will determine the destiny of millions across the world. The outcome of this fight will determine whether or not our children can grow up in the peace we want them to grow up in. Like generations before, we will do the hard work now to make sure our children can grow up in freedom and peace."
This was the second time for Airman 1st Class Deondra Scott to hear the president speak. The 21-year-old medical technician from the 437th Medical Group at Charleston AFB first heard and shook hands with the commander in chief while stationed at Scott AFB, Ill.
"I think for the president to come to my base shows he is seriously concerned for the military members fighting the war on terror," said the native of Pensacola, Fla.
"It makes me proud that he took the time out from his schedule to talk to us and let us know what his plans are for us as servicemembers," said Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Ryan, a Navy Nuclear Power Training Command student at the Navy Weapons Station Charleston.
The president's support also was felt by family members of the military members from this South Carolina airlift hub. Although Capt. Emanuell Vega, a pilot from the 14th Airlift Squadron here and is deployed to Southwest Asia, his family and parents came out to hear what the president had to say.
"I came here to see my daughter-in-law, my granddaughter and the president," said Tony Vega, who drove six hours from Phoenix City, Ala., to Charleston. The retired Army sergeant first class and his wife, Milly Vega, are parents to Captain Vega, and were on the Charleston AFB flightline with daughter-in-law Jennibeth Vega and watched the president hold 22-month-old Selena Vega for photographs after speaking to the crowd. "It was great to have my granddaughter held by him. I am so grateful."
"I got an autograph, picture and shook his hand," said Claudia Richoux, the 8-year-old daughter of Lt. Col. Kenny Richoux, the 17th Airlift Squadron commander here. "I'm never going to wash my left hand again. I met (Vice President) Dick Cheney and the president in back to back days. Sweet!"