Saturday, October 13, 2007

A “Thank You” From the CNO

A “Thank You” From the CNO
Story Number: NNS070928-239/28/2007
From Adm. Mike Mullen, Chief of Naval Operations

Hello everyone. I wanted to simply say thanks. Thanks to all our great Sailors and to your families.
You are the best I’ve ever seen in my four decades of service, and we simply wouldn’t be the Navy we are today without you.I’ve been asked by several people over the last couple of weeks what it is I will miss most about this job and about the Navy. I tell them pretty simply, it’s the people. It’s all of you.
It’s people like Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Morgan B. Bradley.
I met Bradley back in January of 2006, when I was on a tour of the Haditha Dam in northern Iraq.
While serving with the Mobile Assault Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment in the fight for Fallujah in November 2004, Bradley had repeatedly braved enemy fire to care for his wounded Marines.
At one point in the firefight, he sprinted more than 50 yards out in the open, fully exposed to reach two Marines wounded by snipers. He pulled them to safety behind a covered position and calmly treated their wounds.
It happened in an instant. But everyone who witnessed it agreed it was an act of incredible courage not uncommon for the young man from Sacramento. Bradley himself was a little less sure about all that.
“I was just doing my job,” was all he would say.
Just doing my job.
If I've heard that once, I’ve heard it a thousand times since becoming CNO. And, it hasn't just come from Sailors like Bradley, though I’ve certainly pinned many medals on the chests of deserving hospital corpsmen.
It came from Seabees as they worked to dig out Gulfport, Miss., in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Most of their own homes had been obliterated, their own families evacuated, and yet they rolled up their sleeves, picked up their hammers and helped put that town back together. It was just like something out of a John Wayne movie.
I heard it from a group of ombudsmen there as well.
Many of them had lost absolutely everything. They were hurting, barely getting by, and yet there they were at the Fleet and Family Support Center looking for ways to help other Navy families. And, in so many ways families have made a difference in these last couple of years. The support of our families has been at the highest level I’ve ever seen it. I and my wife Deborah are incredibly appreciative of that support.
I’ve heard it from Sailors and Marines stationed far away from home in Japan, Korea, Guam, who know their presence in that vital region helps preserve the peace.
“Just doing my job” is what the Navy security personnel who assist the Iraqis guarding the oil platforms in the Persian Gulf told me.
I heard it from explosive ordnance technicians working hard to find and disarm those IEDs, which are killing our other men and women in uniform.
From the men and women of Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa, who know that setting the conditions for security there is vital to eliminating the threat of terrorism. And, from some of our finest young naval officers commanding Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan.
They will all tell you they are just doing their jobs.
Many of them, in the places I just mentioned, are individual augmentees. Some 50,000 or so, over the last several of years from the Navy -- individual augmentees. Their families, and supporting them, is a critical mission for all of us, and they have performed at an exceptionally high level. Many of them tell me that’s the best year they have ever had in their Navy career.
Doing incredible jobs, like the doctors and nurses aboard our hospital ships USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) and USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) or the crew of USS Peleliu (LHA 5), which just returned last week from a four-month Pacific Partnership mission during which they helped provide care to more than 31,000 people.
Speaking of doctors and patients, I ran into a Navy doctor by the name of Saleem Khan during another trip to Iraq. Khan is a reservist. He was 59 years old at the time, with 18 years in the Navy.
Raised in Pakistan, he can read Arabic and speak Persian. He was on his fifth tour in Iraq.
On the day I visited him he was trying to save the life of an insurgent who only an hour or so before had been trying to kill our Marines. Khan said it was his job to save that life, and he was proud to do it.
A reporter who was traveling with us asked him why he joined the Navy at age 40.
He said, and I quote: “I never wanted anybody to look at me and say, ‘Hey, you came over here and made a lot of money and you didn’t pay your dues. My kids were born in the United States. I want them to know their father paid his dues."
He was, he believed, just doing his job.
I’m convinced it’s more than modesty, though it certainly reflects a good deal of that. It’s a quiet, resolute pride that all of you harbor deep within, pride in doing what this nation has called you to do -- pride in service and duty and honor.
For my part, I want you to know how proud I am, incredibly proud, to have had the opportunity to serve with you these past two years and to watch you at work, just doing your jobs -- active, reserve, civilians.
It’s been inspiring to me and to my wife, Deborah.
My tour as your CNO may be getting cut a little short, but my gratitude for all that you and your families do, every day, will endure the rest of my life.
Thank you for doing your jobs so well. Thank you for your service. And God bless.

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