Indiana Guardsmen, Families Rally for Cheney Remarks

By Staff Sgt. Les Newport, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20, 2006 - Hoosier families of the Indiana Army and Air National Guard from Fort Wayne to Evansville rallied in the early dark morning here today waiting to hear words of support and gratitude from Vice President Dick Cheney.

They didn't have to wait long, as Cheney opened his remarks with an expression of thanks from the commander in chief.

"The citizen-soldier is absolutely vital to protecting this nation and preserving our freedom. We know this from history, and we know it from current events. In this time of war, we have turned to National Guard personnel for missions that are difficult and dangerous," said Cheney.

"I want all of you to know that we respect the sacrifices you make, and we admire your skill and devotion to duty. I'm honored to be in your presence, and I bring you gratitude and good wishes from the president of the United States, George Bush."

Vast majorities of the citizen-soldiers attending the rally have been deployed in the last several years in support of the operations in the Middle East and the Balkans, as well as stateside. Many of them received their initial deployment training at this Indiana National Guard mobilization center that has trained and deployed more than 30,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen.

The Indiana National Guard's civil and military affairs officer, Lt. Col. Jerry Hadley, said that bringing the soldiers together from units across the state would have been a challenge on such short notice.

"As soon as we were able to put the word out that the vice president was going to be here, the concern became how we would accommodate everyone that wanted to attend," said Hadley. "It's important for citizens to have the opportunity to hear from our leaders. To hear from them in person, that makes it all the better."

Hadley said hearing from Cheney was particularly important now, considering the essential role the National Guard has played.

"These are soldiers and airmen who have chosen to make sacrifices, their families make sacrifices," said Hadley. "It's important they understand our leaders intent."

Cheney stated clearly his concern: "First we have to go on the offensive and stay on the offensive until the killers are brought to justice, and the danger is removed," said Cheney. "Second, we must defeat the terrorist ideology and hatred, and resentment, by offering a hopeful vision of freedom, justice and human rights."

Susan Richards of State Family Programs said the excitement surrounding the event was healing for members of the Family Readiness Groups.

"It was exciting for everyone to have someone of Vice President Cheney's stature visit and support their soldiers and airmen," said Richards.

Several soldiers and airmen had the opportunity to personally greet the vice president prior to his address, and among them was a member of the 2-150 Field Artillery's Family Readiness Group. Kimberly Goodin's husband, Master Sgt. Robert Goodin, is deployed to Iraq, and has previously been deployed to Bosnia.

"I was honored to able to meet the vice president and thank him for his support," said Goodin. "And his remarks showed the value he places on our families."

Goodin said she was also moved by the rally and having so many Indiana National Guard members and families together, including the families of soldiers who have been lost in the war.

"In my mind, they are still members of the Guard family," said Goodin, "and they always will be."

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