AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq --
In what he referred to as quite possibly the last time he would ever have the chance to visit Marines in Iraq, Gen. James F. Amos, the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, brought a message of gratitude to Marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen aboard Al Asad Air Base, Dec. 21-22, 2009.
“I’ve been looking forward to coming back to Al Asad right here at the very end and getting a sense for where we are with getting ready to close the door,” said Amos. “Every chance I get to stand up in front of the American people, which is a fair amount, every chance I get to stand in front of Congress, I tell them they ought to be damn proud of what’s happening here in Iraq.”
Amos reflected on the impact each portion of Operation Iraqi Freedom has made on him, starting with the initial invasion in 2003.
“When we crossed the border in 2003…we thought we won. We came back in Fall 2003, and we felt good about what we did…and then we came back in 2004, and I remember thinking boy things have changed – this is not the same Iraq,” explained Amos. “And when [II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward)] came home in March 2006, we had a great series of reunions, and I was proud as I’ve ever been...But, after [meeting fallen Marines’ widows in Spring 2006], I remember thinking, ‘I hope I can look these widows in the eye, and even though it breaks my heart that they lost their sole mate, I can tell them that is was worth it…and I can…we succeeded. We won.”
Amos also spoke briefly about the rich history of Marine Corps and the generations of Marines who have gone before.
“[The Commandant and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps] set the whole [Marine Corps birthday] video up so they could talk about Marines who have gone before and how we stand on the shoulders of those Marines that fought at Bella Wood Chosen, and Iwo Jima,” said Amos. “Marines ten years from now are going to be thinking about what has happened here in Iraq, and they’re going to stand on your shoulders.”
In closing, Amos asked the Marines to tell their story to the American people once they returned to the States.
“Go home and be proud. Stand up in front of your families, stand up in front of your high school class mates, stand up in front of your college buddies, and speak in front of whatever group you’re going to encounter when you go home…tell them what it was like,” Amos stressed. “You tell them how America won and how America’s Marines did the job – that we transferred the Anbar province, which was the worst spot in all of Iraq, back to the Iraqi people.”