September 24, 2004


Bush Surprises Departing Troops With Gift -- Himself (Dana Milbank, September 24, 2004, Washington Post)

It had been a pretty glum day for Spec. Brian Parker, who along with the other members of his National Guard unit said goodbye to their families and departed on a charter flight for a long-term stint in Iraq. But then, on a refueling stop here, a familiar figure boarded the plane.

"We were down when we left our families," Parker said, giving a thumbs down. "But then we heard Air Force One was here. It's a good morale boost."

President Bush, after a campaign appearance in Bangor, held his plane on the tarmac when he heard an MD-11 carrying 292 Army reservists and National Guard members was about to refuel here. For the troops, grimly heading toward an 18-to-24-month assignment in Iraq, it was a welcome lift. For Bush, who has been accusing his Democratic presidential opponent, Sen. John F. Kerry, of demoralizing the troops in Iraq by criticizing the war effort, it was a chance to demonstrate his devotion to the troops.

"May God bless you all," the commander in chief said over the plane's public address system. "May God keep you safe." As he worked his way up and down the plane's aisles, posing for photographs, signing autographs and shaking hands, the happily surprised troops called out to him.

"That's my president, hooah!" shouted Sgt. Wanda Dabbs, 22, a member of the 230th Area Support Group, a Guard unit from Tennessee. Others seconded her cheer.

Amen, Sister.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 24, 2004 8:45 AM

Great story.

Anyone wonder why an 18-24 month long assignment? Where are all the soldiers and Marines?

Posted by: Rick T. at September 24, 2004 9:34 AM

Rick T - good question. Hopefully being pointed towards Syria or Iran.

Posted by: AWW at September 24, 2004 9:44 AM

I bow to a true master. The very definition of leadership.

Posted by: Pilgrim at September 24, 2004 10:16 AM

Rick T.,

The military is reliant on the Guard and Reserves for a whole host of specialities and units that are needed only when deployed to foreign lands. To make the most of the defense dollars, the active military forces are composed primarily of units that can be used to project forces or be supported in garrison by civilians. When those units are actually deployed, they need the support units that are found only or predominately in the Guard and Reserve.

For example, I was a member of a reserve Public Affairs detachment deployed to Bosnia in 19997-98. There are around a dozen of these units in the reserves, but only one on active duty. I believe each of these reserve units has beend deployed at least twice in the last ten years. It's a similar story for many of the support units.

Posted by: The Other Brother at September 24, 2004 10:37 AM


You mean showmanship.

Posted by: Dutch at September 24, 2004 10:50 PM



Posted by: Pilgrim at September 24, 2004 11:17 PM