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Vice President Biden welcomes troops home -- Full text

By Jimmy Orr / April 8, 2009

Vice President Biden welcomed home the Army’s 18th Airborne Corps today in a speech delivered at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

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The full text of Vice President Biden's remarks are below.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: As you all can tell, I not only am a little hoarse, but I'm not accustomed to being introduced by three-stars other than saying, "Here's the Vice President." (Laughter.) I thank you for that gracious introduction, General, and I think I'm actually closer -- I'm in the 20s in terms of my visits to the Balkans and the -- all the way through to Afghanistan, and every place in between.

I committed, when I was elected to the United States Senate as a 29-year-old kid, that wherever I voted to send a man or a woman, I would go to see how they were doing. And I know you all know it assembled here, but to the press corps assembled, and to anyone within the range of my voice or who'll read these remarks, I have been incredibly -- incredibly impressed.

My only regret, General, is when I've traveled to Prishtina or to Brcko or to -- up into the Kunar Valley in Afghanistan, or -- where you and I last hung out in Iraq, I -- my only regret is that the rest of America is not standing next to me, literally seeing the job you all do, the sacrifices you make.

I have never been so proud as standing up in a hamlet in God knows nowhere in the Kunar Valley with six -- I call them "kids" and my wife gets angry. She said, "These are warriors, don't call them kids." But they're younger than I am, standing up there in the middle of nowhere on a mountain pass seeing six people at a forward operating base, and watching them handle an entire community, put themselves in a position where not only are they exposed, but they're exposed also to not just the elements but to the people who in fact they're trying to get to know. And watching these young women and men without any fear or trepidation walking out into communities and villages of less than 200 people, building roads, making sure they have water, and actually, literally standing there, on occasion, behind some sandbag and physically -- physically protecting them.

So I say to all of you assembled on this field today: You are the best trained; you are the bravest; you are the most conditioned; you are the best force America has ever assembled. And I'm just honored and proud to be here today with my wife, Jill.

Fifteen months ago, our country called you to serve in Iraq. For some of you this was not your first deployment. You arrived in a country that was on the brink of a civil war, a country that I first visited over six years ago. I've been back about a dozen times, and watching the circumstance in which you walked into, with a country on the brink of a civil war, a country that experienced widespread sectarian violence while insurgents targeted our troops on a daily basis.

Thousands of young men and women prior to your arrival injured or killed, fighting like the devil to get MRAPs built to take place of up-armored Humvees. Watching there at Dover Air Force Base as so many of these young warriors made their last -- their last and final journey home to their country. You went in the midst of what was an uncertain future for Iraq, and you left -- you left five or six days ago -- you left behind a country in which violence is being replaced by progress.

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