President thanks 3rd Infantry troops - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

President thanks 3rd Infantry troops

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September 12, 2003

Hinesville— The president said America and the world is safer because of Fort Stewart. The 3rd I.D. saw some of the heaviest fighting, leading the assault into Baghdad, and lost more troops than any other unit.

President Bush was warmly greeted at Fort Stewart. Thousands of soldiers from the Third Infantry Division and their families came to see the Commander in Chief. He came to thank them for their courage.

"We made a pledge that day, and we have kept it," said Bush in his address. "We are bringing the guilty to justice, we are taking the fight to the enemy."

His words were met with whoops of approval from the Infantry.

The Third was given the Presidential Unit Citation for their heroism and wartime sacrifices. "Now soldiers in this division can wear them award for the rest of their time in the military," said Maj. Mark Baker. "It's a permanent award right now, so that's great!"

"The Third Infantry Division going over there and being one of the first ones in, and leading all the way, for the President to come down here and recognize us with this award is tremendous," said Major Bill Howard.

The Third suffered the highest casualties of any division, 42, and those men are missed by their comrades. "Right now the President is visiting families," said Lt. Col. Tom Smith. "We lost three in our battalion. Almost is closure to the entire operation. His time there is probably as close to closure as we'll get. It's great. It feels great."

All 16,500 soldiers from the 3rd I.D. served in operation Iraqi freedom. Many of them were involved in 21 days of continuous combat.

posted at 6:00PM by dave.miller@walb.com