MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif., Jan. 21, 2012 – Vice
President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, thanked wounded
warriors and their families for their service and sacrifice during a
visit to the Warrior Hope and Care Center here yesterday.
Vice President Joe Biden speaks with wounded warrior Marine Corps
Sgt. James Amos during a visit to the Warrior Hope and Care Center
on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Jan. 20, 2012. DOD
photo by Elaine Sanchez
The 30,000-square-foot center, part of the Wounded Warrior Battalion
West, opened in October to offer counseling and transition services
to wounded and ill Marines, sailors and their families.
Bidens mingled with about a dozen wounded warriors -- some in
wheelchairs and others seated alongside family members -- in a small
room at the center.
The vice president said he and his wife
visit service members and their families as often as possible for
one reason: “To say thank you.”
“We only have one sacred
obligation in the government,” Biden told the troops. “We have a lot
of obligations -- to the old, to the young, to educate -- but we
have only one sacred obligation, and that is to equip those we send
to war and care for those we bring home from war.
“It is the
single most significant obligation the United States of America
has,” he added.
Biden said he's been in and out of
Afghanistan and Iraq 23
times, but “not like you,” he said, addressing a wounded Marine in
front of him.
The vice president recalled one harrowing trip he took to
Afghanistan before being sworn into office. They were flying
up north in the mountains above the Kunar province when the
helicopter he was flying in got forced down at 9,500 feet,
They landed on a narrow peak, Biden noted,
that was “only wide enough for the carriage of the helo we
were riding in.” About six hours passed, and after dark,
they were directed to climb over a ridge to reach a vehicle
so they could be driven down the mountain.
noted his surprise at how quickly the Marines were able to
obtain photos of him on that peak to ensure their initial
safety. He was told there were Marines situated even higher
up, at 12,000 feet, who earlier had been in a firefight with
This generation of warriors is the finest
generation of warriors the world has ever seen, he said.
More than 2 million warriors since 9/11, he noted, have
“strapped on a helmet ... put your boots on that sand and
climbed into those mountains.”
“It's just astounding,
astounding what you do,” the vice president added. “It takes
my breath away. You guys are amazing -- absolutely,
Biden also acknowledged the
family members in the room, quoting English poet John
Milton: “They also serve who only stand and wait.”
Biden recalled when his son, Beau, a major in the Delaware
Army National Guard, was deployed to Iraq in 2008, He said
he'd come in every morning and see his wife in the kitchen
with a cup of coffee standing over the sink. “I could see
her lips moving,” he said, “She'd say a prayer every single
morning. The same prayer.”
Biden reiterated the
nation's commitment to care for wounded warriors and their
families. He told them “phenomenal” advances and
breakthroughs were on the horizon. He alluded to technology
that would enable doctors to connect the nervous system to a
prosthesis, enabling wounded warriors the same mobiilty as
before their injury.
“There is real hope,” he said,
“and there's an absolute ... positive commitment this country
has made and we are going to keep.”
by telling the warriors, “We owe you. We owe you guys more
than anybody could ever be able to repay you.”
and his wife then took time to speak with each of the
wounded warriors and their family members.
Biden sat with a group of Marines in the back of the room,
the vice president sat on a couch and chatted with wounded
warrior Marine Corps Sgt. Eric Rodriquez, his wife, Tanya
Rodriquez, and their daughter, 3-year-old Camilla.
Biden joked with Camilla for a few minutes before moving on
to greet a double amputee seated in a wheelchair nearby.
Marine Corps Sgt. James Amos was injured in Afghanistan on
June 6. The vice president, Amos said, thanked him for his
service and sacrifice.
The vice president also
visited with a veteran of a past war. He knelt down in front
of Thomas Marino, seated in a wheelchair, and asked him
about his service in World War II as his son, Marine Corps
Gunnery Sgt. David Marino and wife, Laura Marino, stood
Biden then donned a Semper Fi cap and
talked with other wounded warriors before he and his wife
headed back to the East Coast.
The stop here was the
Bidens' last stop on a whirlwind West Coast trip. Dr. Biden
had arrived on base that morning to tour the base and visit
with Marines and their families, including some Gold Star
wives, from an explosive ordnance disposal unit.
By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service
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