Helps Serve Thanksgiving Dinner To Troops
In an amazing gesture
of support to this nation's military heroes, President George Bush
pulled off an amazing flight that is destined to become even more
infamous than his recent carrier landing. Using a number of ruses,
kept hidden even from his own parents, President Bush journeyed to
Iraq, landing in the dark, without lights or fanfare to walk off to
a stunned reception from American Servicemen enjoying turkey
dinners in Baghdad, Iraq.
It was a risky (total) 27-hour flight, just days after another
airliner was nearly destroyed by clandestine missile attacks, but
the morale boost tot he troops was said to be "incalculable." Bush,
coyly said that he showed up, 'just looking for a warm meal.'
Bush did a little political stumping for the 600 plus soldiers
from the 1st Armored Division and the 82nd Airborne, that enjoyed
his presence... "We did not charge hundreds of miles into the heart
of Iraq, pay a bitter cost of casualties, defeat a ruthless
dictator and liberate 25 million people only to retreat before a
band of thugs and assassins."
The trip was planned last month and was given serious thought
after his recent trip to Asia... as the many security concerns were
dealt with in complete secrecy, quite uncommon in Presidential
Bush traveled from his ranch late Wednesday in a vehicle with
tinted windows, each passenger wearing ball caps low on their heads
to avoid possible identification. The departure of Air Force One
was explained away as a maintenance flight while the switch to
another Presidential aircraft threw the scent further off the track
of the President's true whereabouts and eventual destination.
The trip to Baghdad took 11 hours and involved a
covert, unlit approach to the airport with the aircraft's
shades drawn, the aircraft's ID and position lights turned
down and Bush, himself, sitting jump seat on the approach to
landing. Everyone worried, continuously, about the kind of shoulder
launched weaponry that nearly took down a DHL Airbus just a few
days before, but the flight went off without a hitch.
Bush noted that, "I was fully prepared to turn this baby
around," but a final check a few hours before the landing indicated
that the security precautions were working, so the landing was
cleared to proceed. Bush spent only 2.5 hours in Iraq... about as
much as he dared before the word got out, but the effect on
homesick trips was evident everywhere and Bush was emotionally
charged by the experience, "It was an emotional moment to walk into
that room, the energy level was beyond belief."
Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, Combined Joint Task Force 7
commander, and coalition administrator L. Paul Bremer were just
finishing remarks to soldiers of the 2 Armored Cavalry Regiment and
the 1st Armored and 82nd Airborne divisions and other guests at the
start of what was supposed to be a traditional Thanksgiving
"It says here that I'm supposed to read the president's
Thanksgiving proclamation," Bremer said. "But I thought the deal
was for the most senior person to read it. Is that you, sir?"
Bremer asked, turning to Sanchez. "Let's see if we've got anybody
more senior here who can read the president's Thanksgiving speech.
Is there anybody back there more senior than us?"
On cue, Bush walked into the area and up to the podium before a
stunned crowd of soldiers. They immediately jumped to their feet
and hailed him with sustained, thunderous applause and shouts of
"hooah." The president's watery eyes showed his reaction.
"I was just looking for a warm meal somewhere. Thanks for
inviting me," Bush said.
He acknowledged Iraqi Governing Council members on hand. "We're
pleased you're joining us for one of our nation's great holidays, a
chance to give thanks to the Almighty for the many blessings we've
received." Then to the gathered service members he said, "I can't
think of a finer group of folks to have Thanksgiving dinner with
than you all.
The trip back is expected to take about 13 hours and should put
him on the ground about 0200 local time -- just in time for a late
Thanksgiving celebration with his family.
E-I-C Note: No matter what you think of the
President, you have to give him credit for a gutsy move that
legitimately boosted morale for those who serve us each and every
day... Well done, Mr. President, well done.