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Vice President thanks military for commitment; country resolved to remain on offensive, complete its mission

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- America will complete its mission in Iraq and servicemembers will return home with honor, according to Vice President Dick Cheney. That's the message the U. S. second-in-command affirmed during his visit Thursday with the military personnel and residents of Guam.

Vice President Cheney visited with more than 2,000 Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers, Coast Guardsmen and local leaders. During his 29-minute speech, the nation's second-in-command acknowledged Guam's importance to regional security and the Global War on Terrorism and thanked the servicemembers and residents here for their continued patriotism.

"This island may be small, but it has tremendous importance to the peace and security of the world," he said. "By positioning forces on Guam, the United States can move quickly and effectively to protect our friends, defend our interests, bring relief in times of emergency, and to keep the sea lanes open to commerce and closed to terrorists.

"Our whole country appreciates the patriotic welcoming spirit of our fellow Americans, the citizens of Guam," he added.

The vice president's visit was at the request of President George W. Bush to reaffirm America's commitment to Iraq and the War on Terrorism.

"The terrorists know they cannot beat us in a stand-up fight," he said. "The only way they can win is if we lose our nerve and abandon our mission. We know that if we leave Iraq before the mission is completed, the enemy is going to come after us. This nation has made a decision - we will engage these enemies. We will face them far from home so we will not have to face them on the streets of our own cities.

"Terrorists want to destroy our way of life so that freedom no longer has a home and a defender in this world," he said.

According to the vice president, America only has one option: "To take the fight directly to the enemy, and to accept no options but victory."

He assured the men and women in the military that America would stay the course.

"Every member of our military can be certain that America will stay on the offensive in the war on terror," said the vice president. "The American people do not and will not support a policy of retreat. They want to complete the mission. They want to get it done right and return home with honor."

Tech. Sgt. Cristina Dixon, First Term Airman Center noncommissioned officer in charge, said she was impressed with his visit and appreciated his stance on Iraq.

"I'm glad he's still making his campaign," she said. "He's a man of few words, but he didn't beat around the bush. The war isn't over."

Vice President Cheney's visit was also timely in that it allowed him to recognize recent acts of heroism by two Andersen members, according to Brig. Gen. Douglas Owens, 36th Wing commander.

Honored were Lt. Col. Christopher Greiman, commander of the 36th Comptroller Squadron, and Tracy McVay, the wife of an Andersen Airman who is on a remote assignment to Kunsan Air Base, Korea. Colonel Greiman and Mrs. McVay received the Air Force Airman's Medal and the Department of Defense Exceptional Service Award, respectively.

The Airman's Medal is awarded to military members who voluntarily put their lives at risk while saving someone else's life. The Exceptional Service Award is the civilian equivalent.

According to the citation, Colonel Greiman and Mrs. McVay risked their lives in a daring rescue, enduring severe rip tides and razor sharp coral to save two swimmers caught in the tide.

The incident involved five Airmen, one of whom was missing and later declared deceased. Swimming more than 50 meters into the pounding surf, Colonel Greiman and Mrs. McVay found themselves tossed by the same deadly waves as the endangered swimmers. Lifesaving equipment they had gathered on the beach allowed them to extend their reach, securing two of the swimmers caught in the powerful current.

In spite of sustaining lacerations and bruises, Colonel Greiman and Mrs. McVay made it safely to the beach with two of the swimmers and administered first aid to the four injured swimmers - two made it to shore without assistance.

When Colonel Greiman, a 17-year Air Force veteran, learned the Vice President Cheney would present him the award, he said he was shocked.

"I didn't do anything that spectacular," he said. "I wasn't expecting any recognition ... I hope I'm worthy of the honor."

Mrs. McVay was equally surprised and appreciative.

"I don't know if words can express how honored and grateful and wonderful this is. The award is the highest honor, other than my children, that I've been bestowed," she said.

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