Farewell to the Chief-“Mission Accomplished”

There’s a picture wall at all military units, with the chain of command from the unit’s Commanding Officer all the way to the Commander in Chief. In between the two are the top military and civilian leaders, and the pictures change as commands and appointments change.

I’ll never forget the cold January in 2001 when the picture of former President William J. Clinton was removed, replaced by one George W. Bush. There was an almost audible sigh of relief that emanated from the very walls as that picture went up. Military men and women aren’t stupid the way Hollywood thinks they are, they know. When a superior officer or NCO likes and respects their subordinates, they know.

When the picture of G.W. Bush went up on the wall, even the wall knew; we were respected again.

On September 11, 2001, we waited by the phones for the call as it slowly trickled down from the man behind the picture.

When it came for us, it was February 2003 and by then we were chomping at the bit to do our part in the war we never asked for or deserved. We’d all heard the basic intel, Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, likely Anthrax or smallpox, and we began getting immunizations because we knew if he had them, he’d use them.

We gathered in the mess tent at Ali Al Saleem on 17 March to watch our CinC address the nation, giving Saddam Hussein 48 hours to leave Iraq;

The regime has a history of reckless aggression in the Middle East. It has a deep hatred of America and our friends. And it has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al Qaeda.

The danger is clear: using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons, obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country, or any other.

The United States and other nations did nothing to deserve or invite this threat. But we will do everything to defeat it. Instead of drifting along toward tragedy, we will set a course toward safety. Before the day of horror can come, before it is too late to act, this danger will be removed.

This was our cue, in less than 10 hours we were moving through the desert, heading to our staging area and into Iraq shortly thereafter.

We didn’t have the best equipment, owing to the “Peace Dividend” it had mostly all been purchased and stored between 10 and 20 years prior. Hydraulic hoses were dry-rotted, fuel tanks full of gunk resembling Yoo-hoo, but we did what we could with what we had; we did our jobs.

No prouder moment for me was seeing our Commander in Chief on TV via satellite landing on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, the Mission Accomplished banner hanging proudly from the island. Soon our mission would be accomplished as well, and we’d be headed home. I even found a ball cap with those words in the small Exchange on base to wear when I got home.

Today, after being hammered mercilessly he expresses regret at having spoken in front of that banner;

“I regret that that sign was there,” Mr. Bush said, during an interview with CNN in New York, following a speech marking Veterans Day.

The White House has always maintained that the sign referred to the sailors and pilots on board the USS Lincoln, who were returning home from their tour in the Middle East.

Mr. Bush repeated that explanation Tuesday, saying that “it was a sign aimed at the sailors on that ship.”

With all due respect, screw them, sir. We knew what you meant, and it was appreciated by the only ones who mattered on that day.

And when the leftist historians who are even today seeking to re-write the history of the Reagan era try to misunderestimate President Bush sometime down the road, we’ll be there to set the record straight for those with ears to listen and brains to understand

Whatever else he did or did not do these 8 years as President of the United States, he kept this country safer I’m sure than any of his alternates would have.

To me, that outweighs anything and everything.

“All in all, not bad, not bad at all.”