Remarks by President Trump During Thanksgiving Video Teleconference with Members of the Military
Diplomatic Reception Room Washington, DC November 26, 2020 4:59 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I'm thrilled to be online with heroic members of the United States Military. Incredible people. I want to wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving. We're going to have a great year. We have a year coming up - the foundations are ready for one of the best years we've ever had.
We have with us six units deployed all across the world, representing every branch of the armed forces. Many of you are very far from home, but today we hope you know that millions of American families are praying in gratitude for the sacrifices you make and the incredible - absolutely incredible job you do.
As President, I want to personally express my profound thanks to each and every one of you for your devoted service to our nation. Our nation is doing very well. It's the highest honor of my life to serve as your Commander-in-Chief.
Representing the Army today, I want to recognize Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Redhair and the United States Army 36th Infantry Division. Tremendous people. From your base in Kuwait, you support our fight against radical Islamic terrorism and help combat Iranian aggression. We salute you. Thank you very much. And you'll say perhaps a few words in a little while. We appreciate it very much, Timothy.
From the Marines, we have Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force based in Kuwait, which conducts Crisis Response throughout the Middle East. Colonel Andrew Priddy, your warriors bring the fight straight to the enemy so that American families can sleep soundly at home.
We've been building up our military. We spent $2.5 trillion in the last three and a half years. And we've never had anything like it, in terms of equipment and all of the elements that we put together.
Space Force, we're very proud of. Brand new. Nobody thought that could happen.
So we've spent two and a half - think of that - two and a half trillion dollars. All new tanks and missiles and rockets. And everything is tippy top. Nobody thought we could ever get there.
We've done it quickly. Most of the equipment is there; much of it is there. Most of it is coming. The rest of it is coming in over the next, I would say, six months to twelve months. All made in the USA, which is very good.
But every American owes you a debt of thanks, and we appreciate it.
Also with us are men and women of the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Winston Churchill - it's a beauty - led by Commander Timothy Shanley. You're deployed in the Red Sea, where you deter terrorists, defend freedom of navigation, and escort ships through the Strait of Hormuz. Your magnificent ship is a powerful symbol of peace through strength. And that's what we have now is peace through strength. You look at what's going on: no wars. They're saying, "Wow." A President - four years, no wars. We stopped wars. And we won, as you know, 100 percent of the ISIS caliphate in Syria and Iraq. We've done a job.
Welcome, as well, to everyone at Ali Al Salem Airbase in Kuwait, including Major Tommy Rutherford and the 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron. Thank you very much, Tommy. Your missions support our soldiers on the ground and deliver precious cargo where it needs to go, including transporting 18 tons of medical equipment during the China virus pandemic. Keep up the outstanding work. Great job you've done. I hear all about it. It's amazing work you do.
From the United States Space - and this is a very important thing to me - the Space Force - because it's 75 years since the Air Force. This is the first one. New branch. The United States Space Force. We're joined by Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Lohmeier and the 11th Space Warning Squadron - that sounds great - at Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado. You keep watch around the world to detect missile launches, space launches, and nuclear detonations while providing critical intelligence. All of you are pioneers in the newest branch of our armed forces.
And again, it's very special to me, that new branch, because that was something that I felt was necessary. And I never said it during the campaign; I said it after I became President. I saw what was happening with China and Russia and others. And it's really something, so we're very proud of it.
Finally, we have with us members of the U.S. Coast Guard Port Security Unit 308 under Captain Gennaro Ruocco. You're joined with us from Guantanamo Bay, where you secure our coastal waters, combat drug traffickers, escort vessels, and protect our forces in the region.
On American shores and beyond, the Coast Guard has always made America proud. I want to tell you, I was here two years ago in Texas; you saved thousands and thousands of people. That was incredible, the job the Coast Guard has done. And now we have all new ships coming to the Coast Guard. You had old ships, and they were as good as they could be, but they were very old. And now you have brand new Coast Guard ships, and it's my honor to have gotten them for you.
Today, I send you the love, gratitude, respect, and prayers of our entire nation. Once again, I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving. You're doing an incredible job, and your country is doing well. We just set a record in the stock market: over 30,000 in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Over 30,000 - think of that. Nobody ever thought we were going to hit that during a pandemic.
The whole world is suffering this tremendous pandemic, not just us - the world. And it doesn't - you wouldn't know that to listen to the news reports, but the whole world is suffering. And we're - we are rounding the curve. The vaccines are being delivered literally - it'll start next week and the week after. And it will hit the frontline workers and seniors and doctors, nurses - a lot of people are going to start, and we're going very quickly.
Two companies already announced a third one coming up and a fourth and fifth one coming up soon also. So it's - some people have called it a medical mir- - really, a miracle. It could have taken four or five years to do this. Normally, it probably would have taken four or five years, just getting it through the FDA. We pushed it very hard.
But I want to thank you all. I want to wish you a happy Thanksgiving. And let's - maybe, if we could start. Anybody would like to raise their hand. Go ahead. We'll start with you.
LIEUTENANT COLONEL TIMOTHY REDHAIR: Sir, good evening, Mr. President. On behalf of Task Force Spartan, 36th Infantry Division Command Team, Major General Pat Hamilton, (inaudible), I'd like to take this opportunity to say thank you for sticking with all of us, and happy Thanksgiving to you and yours as well.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
LIEUTENANT COLONEL TIMOTHY REDHAIR: If you don't mind, I'd like - go ahead, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, go ahead, please. Please.
LIEUTENANT COLONEL TIMOTHY REDHAIR: I was just going to take a couple minutes out to introduce some of the folks sitting around me that are here in Kuwait. Specialist Greene, to my right, she's from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. PFC (inaudible) directly behind me is from Sabine, Texas. Again, one of the most important people as an (inaudible) commander is my Command Sergeant Major Daniel Castro directly behind me. And then I've gotten Specialist Carr and Specialist (inaudible), and these soldiers are doing an outstanding job, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: That's fantastic. And how is Kuwait doing?
LIEUTENANT COLONEL TIMOTHY REDHAIR: It's doing well, sir. It's doing quite well. We just recently got here, and we're looking forward to continuing our mission.
THE PRESIDENT: That's great. Well, you're doing a fantastic job and we appreciate it. And thank you very much, Colonel. Tremendous to be with you. Happy Thanksgiving. Say hello and a happy Thanksgiving to everybody, and we'll see you soon. Thank you for the job you do. Appreciate it.
LIEUTENANT COLONEL TIMOTHY REDHAIR: Absolutely, sir. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
Colonel, go ahead, please. Marine Corps. Thank you. Andrew, go ahead, please. You're ready. Does he hear me? Maybe not. Oh, there he is. Is that Andrew? Marine Corps.
COLONEL ANDREW PRIDDY: Good afternoon, Mr. President, and happy Thanksgiving from Kuwait. As you said, (inaudible) the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force deployed here from (inaudible). I've been here since May and (inaudible) in February. We have Marines in nine countries (inaudible) at CENTCOM, and it's truly an honor to serve. And I really wanted to take a quick moment to recognize Sergeant Romero Vasquez, who is sitting to my left. He's from Los Angeles, California, and a great Marine serving here in the MAGTF.
THE PRESIDENT: Sergeant, go ahead, please.
SERGEANT VASQUEZ: It's an honor to meet you, Mr. President. Just talking to you in person, it's a really great honor. And it's a great place here in Kuwait. You know, I love what I do. I love serving my country.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Great job. We appreciate it very much.
SERGEANT VASQUEZ: Sir, thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. And good luck with everything. Happy Thanksgiving to everybody, please. Thank you. Thank you very much.
The Navy. Tim, go ahead.
COMMANDER SHANLEY: Hey, good evening, Mr. President. This is Commander Tim Shanley, CO of the USS Winston Churchill, currently patrolling the waters of the Middle East. On behalf of the 352 sailors that are assigned to our ship, I'd like to wish you a happy Thanksgiving, sir.
We've been underway since this - you know, we deployed earlier this summer, and we've got underway - we've travelled over 30,000 miles so far, through the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, Red Sea, all the way to the Arabian Gulf and back. So we've - we've sustained some solid operations out here, conducting escort operations, overwatch, counter-piracy, counter-illicit trafficking.
And one of the things I wanted to highlight, sir, was the Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure Team that's right behind me. We've got Lieutenant (inaudible), OS2 Robinson, GM2 (inaudible), GM2 Larkin, GM2 Ciprian, GM2 Menina, ICC Cordell, and we have RS3 Coleman. Directly to my right is my executive officer, Commander Brian Anthony. And to my left is Command Master Chief Juan Navarro.
It's our honor to be on this VTC, sir. I wish you a happy Thanksgiving, and it's great to be here, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I want to thank you very much. Is that the engines I hear behind you? That sounds like a powerful group. It sounds like waves crashing into the ship. But it's a beautiful sound. That's a beautiful sound.
Are you enjoying what you're doing, Tim?
COMMANDER SHANLEY: Absolutely. Yes, sir, Mr. President. It's a - it's so fulfilling being out here. I have, you know - people say other things are America's Team, but I am in command of America's Team out here, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah. Great. And your equipment is getting newer and newer, better and better. We're building a lot of ships right now, as you know, and you'll have them very soon. And I just want to congratulate you - everybody. But I want to congratulate you. Great job with the Navy. We appreciate it very much, Tim. Thank you.
So, the Air Force.
COMMANDER SHANLEY: Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: We'll do the Air Force. Please, please, Tommy.
MAJOR RUTHERFORD: All right. Good afternoon, Mr. President. It's truly an honor to (inaudible) this afternoon. I was glad to hear you knew so much about our unit, so I won't talk too much about us. But I will tell you that also in this room today, we were able to invite up one of our sister units here, which is the VA6 Expeditionary Security Forces. So we got some folks here that represent 240 defenders here on the ground that protect 650- - sorry, 100 joint coalition and contractor personnel here in Kuwait.
Also super proud to be able to, obviously, represent American interests out here, and super excited to talk to you today as well.
Two folks I wanted to highlight who could not be here with us today: These two units lost individuals during this rotation, which was Sergeant Ouellette and Senior Airman Phan. Great Americans. One from each of the units that's represented here. And your conversation with us is a great morale boost, so much appreciated for you doing that, sir.