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Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

Remarks by Secretary Eric K. Shinseki

Wheels for Wounded Warriors Van Presentation Ceremony
Tampa Bay, FL
March 19, 2009

Welcome, everybody.  I am honored to be here today.  The Salomones are old friends. Right after September 11th, Mary Kay told me she wanted to start Operation Support Our Troops.  I had no doubts that she would succeed, and I am delighted by her many compassionate achievements over the intervening years.

 

During that time, she has provided constant and meaningful volunteer support to our men and women in uniform:

 

Shipping hundreds of tons of care packages to troops, wherever they served;

Remembering them at Christmas with holiday boxes - this past Christmas her organization sent over 5,000 homemade, personalized Christmas stockings to our warriors;

Traveling with musicians to entertain our troops and their families in Germany, providing care packages to the wounded at the Landstuhl Medical Center; her support has been truly remarkable.

 

Today, her “Wheels for Wounded Warriors” project is directly helping Veterans and their families. In time of war, we know that we do not only deploy our troops; the whole family also deploys until the military member returns home. And for our wounded warriors, their long journey of adjusting to new realities is very much shared by their families.    

When Mary Kay first asked me here today, she reminded me that “these are your troops now - again.”  She’s right, and I am honored to be their advocate.  And so today, I am here to thank Mary Kay Salomone for her generosity and her determination, but more importantly, we are all here to honor some very special people:

Staff Sargeant Scot Noss - an American Soldier dedicated to his family and his faith - he served his country with distinction in the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment.

Navy Petty Officer Anthony Thompson - proud father, husband and warrior who served our nation as a hospital corpsman with the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment.

Specialist Bradley Thomas - a Soldier fiercely loyal and devoted to his faith. He proudly served in the Army’s 2nd Stryker Brigade, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment.

And CWO Romulo Camargo, a loving father and devoted husband, passionate about his service with the Army’s 7th Special Forces Group in Afghanistan.

 

We, who enjoy liberty’s blessings, will forever remain in the debt of these men, others like them, and their families, who sacrifice so much.  Though that debt is largely un-payable - their sacrifices are beyond measure - they and their families deserve, and will always receive, our full measure of regard, respect, and devotion.  And so today, we render a small token of our abiding respect in the presentation of these vans to them and to their families.

 

May God bless you and your family members.  May God bless all our Veterans, and may God bless our great country.

 

Thank you.