By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
March 20, 2008 - Vice President Richard B. Cheney thanked American servicemembers today for their service in Afghanistan, saying they are making history every day. Cheney spoke with troops at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, and then presented five awards – including a Silver Star – and re-enlisted six servicemembers of Combined Joint Task Force 82.
Cheney said the troops are making Americans proud. "Almost every factor that makes a battlefield tough is found right here in Afghanistan – rugged terrain, lousy weather, great distances, and a nasty, brutal enemy," the vice president said. "But our military record here, as leader of a great coalition, has been brilliant."
Before October 2001, Afghanistan was a country mired in the Taliban-induced Dark Ages. The country was a staging point and training area for al Qaeda. "Today, Afghanistan has an elected government, a rising economy and schools that educate both boys and girls," he said. "Afghanistan is rebuilding itself. And the people of this nation, and the government that serves them, are key allies for us in the war on terror."
Afghans do not want the Taliban back in power. They want the United States and NATO to continue to stand with them, Cheney said.
"Having liberated this country, the United States and our coalition partners have no intention of allowing extremists to shoot their way back into power," he said. "We're going to get this job done right, so that another generation of Americans doesn't have to come back and do it all over again."
He told the troops that they are making history, and that no one in the U.S. government takes their work for granted.
"We know the work is hard, we know the conditions are tough, we know the deployments are hard on families, but we're impressed beyond measure by all of the accomplishments that you've made," the vice president said. "We've seen tactical skill and authentic American heroism. And I appreciate the chance to say to all of you: Thank you for what you've done for all of us."
Cheney presented the Silver Star – the nation's third-highest award for valor – to Army Spc. Monica Brown. He also presented Bronze Star Medals for Valor to Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher R. Phillips and Army Spc. Charles E. Bell Jr.
Cheney also awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal to Marine Staff Sgt. Earl D. Lopez, and the Army Commendation Medal to Capt. Brian White.