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Ancient Ruins

President Barack Obama Address Service Members

  • brinnhefron

Story, photo by Airman Brinn Hefron, NAS Pensacola Public Affairs

15 June 2010

PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- More than 3,000 Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Soldiers attended a speech given by President Barack Obama at Naval Air Station Pensacola June 15. Obama visited the air station as part of his fourth visit to the Gulf Coast in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Obama began his speech by thanking local military leaders, including NAS Pensacola's Commanding Officer Capt. Christopher Plummer and Command Master Chief Mike Dollen, along with the governor of Florida and other officials.

"Here in Pensacola, the beautiful beaches are still open," Obama told the service members. "The sand is white and the water is blue. So folks that are looking for a good vacation, they can still come down to Pensacola. People need to know that Pensacola is still open for business."

After speaking to the fact that the American people are being encompassed in an "unprecedented environmental disaster" Obama acknowledge the hard work that the military members continue to do.

"That includes mobilizing the key sources of the greatest military in the world. Here at Naval Air Station Pensacola, you've been one of the major staging areas. You've helped to support the response effort. … And all along the Gulf Coast, our men and women in uniform -- active, guard and Reserve -- from across the country are stepping up and helping out. They're Soldiers on the beaches putting out sandbags, building barriers and cleaning up oil. And helping people process their claims for compensation from BP. They're Sailors and Marines offering their ships and theirs skimmers, their helicopters and miles of boom. They're are Airmen overhead, flying the equipment, and spraying the dispersant. And of course there are Coast Guardsmen and women, on the cutters in the air, working around the clock," Obama said.

He added that service members continuously prove themselves indispensable.

"That spirit of resolve and determination and resilience, that's the same spirit we see in all of you, the men and women in uniform, the spirit we will need to meet other challenges of our time. … Our nation is at war, and all of you have stepped forward. You volunteered. You took an oath. You stood tall and said 'I will serve,'" he said.

Obama also restated his commitment to those who serve the nation in uniform.

"As your commander in chief I want you to know something: I will not hesitate to use force to protect the American people or our vital interests. But I will also never risk your lives unless it's absolutely necessary. And if it is necessary, we are going to back you up to the hilt with the strategy, and the clear mission, and the equipment and the support that you need to get the job done right.

"We are poised to end our combat mission in Iraq this summer, on schedule," he said -- with the result of cheering from the troops and their families.

Obama also mentioned that as America pulls its forces out of Iraq, more effort will be put forth in helping the Afghan government and protecting the Afghan people.

Boosting the morale of the uniformed services, Obama said, "As you meet the missions we ask of you, we're going to make sure you're trained and equipped to succeed. That's why we halted reductions in the Navy. That's why we increased the size of the Marine Corps. That's why we're investing in the capabilities and technologies of tomorrow. And as we come up on the 100th anniversary of naval aviation next year, we're committed to the next generation of aircraft. We're going to keep you the best-trained, best-led, best-equipped military that the world has ever known."

At the conclusion of the event, Obama came off the stage and entered the crowd to take photos and shake hands with service members in attendance.

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