MARINE COMBAT HEADQUARTERS, Central Iraq -- The man running Operation Iraqi Freedom briefly visited the leathernecks, their fellow service members and coalition partners of I Marine Expeditionary Force April 7.
Army General Tommy Franks, the commander of U.S. Central Command, addressed a group of Marines from a stepladder just after finishing a meeting with Lieutenant Gen. James T. Conway, IMEF's commanding general.
In his trademark southern drawl, the husky general told a group of weary Marines at Staging Area Chesty that he is proud of the Corps' actions thus far in the war.
"I want you to be proud, and I want you to hold your head up high," Gen. Franks told the formation of Marines. "I want you to remember those we've lost. I also want you to remember what we've gained."
Wearing a light beige scarf wrapped around his neck, he shook hands, signed autographs and posed for pictures with the Marines.
"I am so proud of 'ya," the general told the leathernecks. "It is such an honor for me to be just be standing here with you.
"God bless all of you. God bless the Corps, the mission, and God bless the United States of America."