FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Jan. 19, 2021) — Just days before leaving office, Vice President Mike Pence visited Fort Drum on Jan. 17 to thank 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers for their service and to express gratitude to military families for their significant contributions to the nation.
“I am here to deliver a simple message to each and every one of you, on behalf of your commander in chief and every American: Thank you for your service,” he said. “I can assure all of you in uniform that the American people are more grateful for your service than you will ever know. The people of this country know, you’re the best of us.”
The audience was limited to roughly 150 Soldiers and family members – in compliance with COVID-19 safety measures – with many of the attendees having returned from deployments in the past several weeks.
“Not only to those of you who wear the uniform, but we are grateful to those who you serve alongside,” Pence said. “So many of you serve every day as a family, while you train and while you deploy. It is our wives, husbands and parents who keep the home fires burning.”
After the Sept. 11 attack on American soil, the 10th Mountain Division (LI) was the first conventional force in Afghanistan, and it has the distinction of being the most deployed division in the war on terrorism with 48 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Many people wonder all their lives if they have made a difference, but you will never have that problem,” Pence said. “The truth is, the Armed Forces of the United States is the greatest force for good in the history of the world. And you chose to be a part of that force. You chose to do your part in our time to defend freedom and ensure the survival of liberty in this generation and in the next.”
Pence previously visited Fort Drum in August 2018 when the President Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act. Speaking from the same aviation hangar at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield where that ceremony occurred, the vice president reflected on the achievements of the Trump administration.
“From the first day of our administration, we have worked with members of Congress in both parties to make the strongest fighting force in history stronger still,” he said.
In the last four years, Pence said that the administration secured the highest pay raise for service members in a decade, bolstered national defense spending to provide troops with the supplies and equipment they need and strengthened partnerships with foreign allies.
The outgoing vice president said that the nation will depend on the 10th Mountain Division to remain ever vigilant.
“Mind your mission, respect the unified chain of command, keep taking care of each other and never doubt that every decision you make matters to the defense of our nation,” he said. “Give America your best every day in the very best tradition of the 10th Mountain Division. I want you to note the American people are behind you 100 percent.”
Pence said that his message of thanks was not simply the words of an elected official, but heartfelt sentiments from a son whose father was a Korean War veteran and a father whose son is on active duty as a Marine aviator.
This was a theme equally shared by his wife, Karen Pence, who also mentioned that their son-in-law is a Navy pilot currently on deployment.
“So we are a Blue Star family, just like your families,” she said. “We are grateful, so grateful for your service and sacrifice. You know, we are learning more now that our kids are in the military what a huge sacrifice it is. It is a huge sacrifice for service members, but it is also a huge sacrifice for your spouses and children. We know that they serve too.”
Concluding his remarks, Pence said that service members are the strength and pride of the nation, and they are in the thoughts and prayers of all Americans.
“And as our time in office draws to a close, allow me to thank you for the privilege of serving as your vice president,” he said. “It has been the greatest honor of my life. And it has been a special privilege to serve all of you, and men and women like you, who have been all over this country and all over the world wearing the uniform of the Armed Forces of the United States.”