John King, USA

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June 29th, 2011
03:25 PM ET

Gates farewell message to U.S. military

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During his last full day as Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates will send out this farewell message to "all U.S. military personnel, active and reserve, around the world" today:

TO THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES: TOMORROW, 30 JUNE 2011, I WILL RETIRE AS SECRETARY OF DEFENSE. IT HAS BEEN THE GREATEST HONOR OF MY LIFE TO SERVE AND TO LEAD YOU FOR THE PAST FOUR AND A HALF YEARS.

ALL OF THAT TIME WE HAVE BEEN ENGAGED IN TWO WARS AND COUNTLESS OTHER OPERATIONS. IT HAS BEEN A DIFFICULT TIME FOR YOU AND FOR YOUR FAMILIES, FROM LONG AND REPEATED DEPLOYMENTS FOR THOSE IN ALL FOUR SERVICES – AND THE ASSOCIATED LONG SEPARATIONS FROM LOVED ONES – TO THE ANGUISH OF THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE LOST FRIENDS AND FAMILY IN COMBAT OR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE SUFFERED VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE WOUNDS OF WAR YOURSELVES. BUT YOUR DEDICATION, COURAGE AND SKILL HAVE KEPT AMERICA SAFE EVEN WHILE BRINGING THE WAR IN IRAQ TO A SUCCESSFUL CONCLUSION AND, I BELIEVE, AT LAST TURNING THE TIDE IN AFGHANISTAN. YOUR COUNTRYMEN OWE YOU THEIR FREEDOM AND THEIR SECURITY. THEY SLEEP SAFELY AT NIGHT AND PURSUE THEIR DREAMS DURING THE DAY BECAUSE YOU STAND THE WATCH AND PROTECT THEM.

FOR FOUR AND A HALF YEARS, I HAVE SIGNED THE ORDERS DEPLOYING YOU, ALL TOO OFTEN INTO HARM'S WAY. THIS HAS WEIGHED ON ME EVERY DAY. I HAVE KNOWN ABOUT AND FELT YOUR HARDSHIP, YOUR DIFFICULTIES, YOUR SACRIFICE MORE THAN YOU CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE. I HAVE FELT PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR EACH OF YOU, AND SO I HAVE TRIED TO DO ALL I COULD TO PROVIDE WHATEVER WAS NEEDED SO YOU COULD COMPLETE YOUR MISSIONS SUCCESSFULLY AND COME HOME SAFELY – AND, IF HURT, GET THE FASTEST AND BEST CARE IN THE WORLD.

YOU ARE THE BEST THAT AMERICA HAS TO OFFER. MY ADMIRATION AND AFFECTION FOR YOU IS WITHOUT LIMIT, AND I WILL THINK ABOUT YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES AND PRAY FOR YOU EVERY DAY FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. GOD BLESS YOU.


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soundoff (One Response)
  1. Erland Russell

    John King, you presented two questions that Americans responded to that you then assumed were and inditement of Obama. The questions were "Are you angry?" and "Are you afraid?" and the responses were that most Americans responded affirmatively. This however cannot be laid at Obamas feet but more at the feet of the Tea Party and Faux News for having aggressively driven the anger and fear across the country.

    You also listened to the republican get away with saying that the lack of job creation was due to inaction on the part of democrats. Why didn't you ask him where all the jobs are that were supposed to show up as a result of extending the Bush tax cuts. That was the selling point of the Republicans for extending the tax cuts. They should be held accountable for accounting for why these jobs have not shown up.

    September 15, 2011 at 12:02 am |