Vice President Dick Cheney spoke
to approximately 3,200 Expeditionary Strike Group
(ESG) 1 Sailors, Marines and family members on May 23.
While aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), where the event was hosted, Cheney thanked the ESG 1 service members for their hard work in supporting the war on terror and providing humanitarian aid to Pakistan after an October 2005 earthquake there killed more than 70,000 people.
"This operation would not have been possible without the effort of ESG 1," said Cheney. "Thank you for your exemplary work in this great time of need."
Rear Adm. Michael LeFever, commander, ESG 1, said that helping out those in need in Pakistan was different because it was a non-combatant role, but it was a wonderful experience for him and the ESG 1 crew.
"It was really a great opportunity to help out. We met a lot of great people, and it felt good to be able to help the people of Pakistan," LeFever said.
During the relief effort, ESG 1 ships USS Cleveland (LPD 7) and USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) offloaded several hundred tons of relief supplies and equipment in the port of Karachi, Pakistan, to assist Pakistani citizens
with medical and rebuilding needs.
Cheney also spoke about the importance of ESG 1's role in the war on terror and stressed that the military will "...stay in the fight until the fight is done.
"The terrorist will fail because the American military stands in their way," Cheney added.
USS Tarawa (LHA 1), which was ESG 1's flagship, Pearl Harbor and Cleveland offloaded the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) to carry out combat operations in Western Iraq and assist with Iraqi elections in December 2005.
Pearl Harbor also acted as a staging base for coalition forces protecting both the Al Basra and Khawr Al Amaya oil terminals, which generate more than 85 percent of the Iraqi economy and are critical to the nation’s stability.
In addition to recognition for ESG 1’s role in Iraq, Cheney added that the Navy must have an agile and lethal force in the 21st century to combat terror around the world and that the ESG is that force.
"The war on terror is a battle for the future of civilization and it's a battle we will win," Cheney said.
Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 1st Class (SW) Cesar Valdez, from USS Tarawa, said that he was very excited to see Cheney speak.
"I feel really honored to be able to come out and hear the vice president speak," said Valdez, who brought out his wife and 13-month-old son to hear the vice president's remarks.
"It feels very good to be thanked by the vice president for all the hard work we did while we were on deployment," Valdez added.
Sgt. Maj. Enrique Hines from the 13th MEU agreed that the visit was a real morale boost for ESG personnel.
"It was great that he took time out to come and thank every ship and command of ESG 1 for all the work we have done," said Hines. "I appreciate that he reaffirmed that we weren't going to stop until the fight is done. It really goes along with the Marine motto, 'first to fight, last to leave.'"
ESG 1, which deployed from July 2005 to February 2006, was comprised of Commander, Amphibious Squadron 1; the San Diego-based ships Tarawa, Pearl Harbor, Cleveland, and USS Decatur (DDG 73); the 13th MEU from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.; USS Chosin (CG 65) and USS Santa Fe (SSN 763), homeported in Pearl Harbor; USS Ingraham (FFG 61), from Everett, Wash.; and USS Gonzalez (DDG 66), homeported in Norfolk, Va.
The ESG was also supported by elements of Assault Craft Unit 5, Beach Master Unit 1 and Tactical Air Control Squadron 11.
By Journalist 2nd Class Adrian Melendez, Navy Region Southwest Public Affairs