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KNOB NOSTER -The Vice President of the United States Joe Biden made a trip to Missouri Thursday to speak directly to American Armed Forces and thank them for their service.
Biden was joined by House Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton on Thursday at Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster, home of the B-2 Bomber.
Biden told the troops numbering more than 1,000 that the country owes a great gratitude for their service.
“Folks, to the President, the Secretary of State and to me, when I say, ‘We owe you,’ these are not idle phrases,” Biden said in a lowered voice. “When we say, ‘We owe you,’ we mean it more than just a nice salutation.
“All in all, this administration is wholly devoted to serving the brave women and men in uniform,” he added. “As you sacrifice to serve our country, we should do a little sacrifice serving you.”
Biden praised the military and called it, “The premier military, not only in the world today, but it is not hyperbole to suggest in the history of the world.”
Biden told the troops that taking care of America’s veterans is important. He told the active duty troops that President Barack Obama and his administration is committed to taking care of them once their time serving is done.
“Our commitment doesn’t end when your time at this base ends. All of you will one day be veterans,” Biden said. “And our commitment extends to veterans, as well, because they have been forgotten a lot the last eight years, last 15 years.”
The Vice President told the troops that the Recovery Act contained more than $7 billion in additional funding for military construction projects including $17.8 million in projects at Whiteman.
Biden also took a chance to commend Skelton on his many years of service in the House of Representatives and said Skelton is always at the forefront when it comes to fighting for more funding for the military.
“You know, as you all continue and have fought for your country, you’re all very fortunate to have a man like Ike fighting for you,” Biden said. “ I’ve never seen anybody as tenacious in fighting for his district, but more importantly, specifically fighting for the military–fighting for the military, including this base.”
Biden said it’s not just the military that Skelton fights for. He said Skelton knows how important it is to take care of veterans and their families.
“Ike has supported better military pay, better military health care, better military education, better lives for the men and women in uniform, and no less important is their families,” Biden said. “The families are never left out when Ike starts talking about and appropriating the money needed for the United States military.”
Skelton spoke briefly before introducing Biden and said he and the Vice President have been friends since Skelton first won election in 1976.
“I always say I like to introduce a friend to a friend,” Skelton said speaking to the troops. “That is the case today.”
Skelton echoed Biden’s statements about the commitment to the U.S. Military.
“The fact that we’re here denotes the fact that this gentleman (Biden) feels very very much the needs of our men and women in uniform.”
Biden also place the Bronze Star Medal on Technical Sgt. David H. Townsend of Windsor for his bravery in Iraq as part of a convoy that saw more than 17,000 miles through dangerous territory in Iraq.
“It was a great honor, Sergeant, to be able to pin that bronze star on you,” Biden said. “You were probably less concerned jumping in the convoy than you were coming up here on stage, but you did well.”
After the speech Biden and Skelton had lunch with some troops before heading off to Jefferson City and St. Louis later in the day.
Photo: House Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton greeted Vice President Joe Biden as he took the microphone on Thursday to speak to troops at Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster. Skelton and Biden later had lunch with some of the troops. (Photo by Dennis Sharkey/The Daily News)