Franks: 'It's an honor for me to stand with you'

24 Jan 2003 | Sgt. Colin Wyers

Army Gen. Tommy Franks, commander, U.S. Central Command, visited the Marines and sailors of the I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) at Camp Commando, Kuwait Jan. 24.Franks talked to the assembled troops at the Coliseum, an open-air amphitheater, thanking them for their service to America.During the speech, Franks told a story about a Marine he met in Kuwait several years ago."We had a MEU that came ashore, and we had them dug up here at the bottom of one of the ridgelines, and there was a young private, he was down in the hole," said Franks. "I walked up and I got down in the hole, looked at that Marine, and I said, 'How you doing?' "He said, 'Ooh-rah, doing fine.'"I said, 'Is there anything that you need, that you don't have?' I thought that Marine was going to look at me and say, 'I could use a hot meal.' "He looked up and said, 'General, I'm glad you asked. I could use a couple more magazines of ammunition.' It's that that separates a United States Marine from a lot of other people."The general's comments were met with shouts of 'ooh-rah' from the assembled crowd."It was great to have somebody with such a high rank come and give us such a motivating speech," said Cpl. Camilo Antonini, 27, from New York. "It keeps the spirits high."Franks told the troops that he was impressed by their dedication and service."You guys are half a world away from everything that's important to you - from husbands, wives, sons, mothers, fathers, aunts, and uncles," said Franks. "It is such an honor for me to stand with you... that I just can't hardly stand it. All y'all swore to defend the Constitution of the United States. I look at you, and I recognize that it is on your shoulders that my grandkids stand, and I realize what an honor it is to stand with you."While Franks did not know what the future would hold for the I Marine Expeditionary Force, he told them that he was sure they were ready for it."A more special force has never been put together in one place in one time," said Franks. "Better leaders have never been put together in one place in one time. We've got great expectations of all of you. When are you going to go home? ... When its done. Is there gonna be a war? Don't know. But if there is a war, we win, and it's because of you."