JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. - United States of America President Barack Obama visited Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst to express his gratitude to service members and Department of Defense civilians for their service to their country during a meet and greet event Dec. 15, 2014.
The event allowed more than 3,000 military and civilian personnel to listen to their commander-in-chief discuss current conflicts and mission readiness, but more importantly to thank the attendees for their service and dedication to their nation.
Service members and Department of Defense civilians shake hands and take photos of United States of America President Barack Obama after addressing a crowd of more than 3,000 people at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Dec. 15, 2014. The President visited the joint base to express his gratitude to service members and DOD civilians for serving their country. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Saldukas)
"Part of the message I'm here to deliver on behalf of the American people is very simple: It's just to say thank you," the president said. "Thank you for your extraordinary service. I thank you as your president because you inspire me. And of all the privileges I have in serving in this office, nothing comes close to the honor of serving as your commander-in-chief."
He explained how differences and disagreements will always be around; however, when it comes to service members and their families, Americans will always stand united.
"That's especially true now, during the holidays," he said. "We can gather with family and friends because you're willing to hug yours goodbye and step forward to serve. After a long day, we can come home because you're willing to leave your home and deploy. We get to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and holidays, go to soccer games and go to dance recitals because you're willing to miss those in your family. We're free and safe and secure over here because you're willing to serve over there."
The president noted how the selfless character of today's military force is a precious gift that is given all year every year.
"What makes us special, what makes us the best is all of you," Obama said. "It's your character and your willingness to say, 'send me.' Your dedication to duty, your courage, and your readiness to defend our values and our ideals of freedom and liberty, not just for us, but for people all around the world. You are the backbone of the greatest nation on Earth, and you always will be that. And for that, America is eternally grateful, and I am incredibly proud to serve as your Commander-in-Chief. So, happy holidays, everybody and God bless you. God bless your families. God bless our Armed Forces. God bless the United States of America. Thank you."
During the last six months, more than 3,000 service members from JB MDL deployed in support of numerous operations world-wide. Regardless of service branch, personnel train, equip and mobilize on a continuous rotation from the installation.
"Whether it is at home or abroad, our military is truly one team-a joint team-that trains and works together to plan, prepare and provide lifesaving and life sustaining capabilities, whenever and wherever our nation needs us," said Maj. Gen. Margaret 'Maggie' Boor, commanding general of the 99th Regional Support Command. "We are an All-Volunteer force of service men and women dedicated to the Profession of Arms, who are proud to be part of the finest military of the finest country in the world."
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst was one of three bases up for consideration for the presidential visit. On Friday, the White House officially announced the president's trip to JB MDL.
"We are very proud to be the home of the DoD's only tri-service led joint base where we provide tremendous rapid global mobility, training, mobilization and innovation for America enabled by the great Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guard and DoD Civilians from across the Joint Base," said Maj. Gen. Rick Martin, commander of the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center. "It is a great privilege and honor to host our Commander-in-Chief. His visit is a testimony to the remarkable impact each of you make every day around the world."
Obama also thanked YN2 Cary Chavez, assigned to VR-64, for reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and Staff Sgt. Ashley Montgomery, assigned to the 87th Force Support Squadron, for singing the national anthem prior to his remarks.
Leaders from across all services, elected officials and community leaders who support the men and women of JB MDL were also in attendance.
By U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Scott Saldukas
Provided through DVIDS
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