Thursday, April 03, 2003

Bush Says Vise Closing on Saddam's Regime

Bush Says Vise Closing on Saddam's Regime

By SCOTT LINDLAW
Associated Press Writer

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (AP) -- President Bush, comforting grief-stricken family and friends of fallen Marines, praised U.S. troops Thursday for their two-week advance on Baghdad and said "a vise is closing" on Saddam Hussein's regime.

"What we have begun, we will finish," Bush told thousands of cheering Marines and their families. "We will not stop until Iraq is free."

He spoke as U.S. Marines and infantry surged to within four miles of the capital city's gates, raising hopes that victory may be drawing near. Scores of blown-up Iraqi vehicles and dozens of dead bodies lined the roads where the Iraqis had built fighting positions.

"Having traveled hundreds of miles, we will now go the last 200 yards," Bush said. He was not speaking literally, the White House said, but was instead evoking military lore that Marines stand alone in the final battles for the last bit of enemy ground.

In his third appearance at a military installation since the war began last month, Bush chose the base hardest-hit by combat deaths. At least 13 of the Americans killed since the war started two weeks ago were from Camp Lejeune, N.C., and six more from that Marine Corps base are missing.

Bush was meeting with five families of Marines lost in the 2-week-old war.

"These were sacrifices in a high calling: the defense of our nation and the peace of the world," he said.

No Marine died in vain, Bush said: "By our actions, we serve a great and just cause. We will remove weapons of mass destruction from the hands of mass murders. Free nations will not sit and wait, leaving enemies free to plot another Sept. 11, this time perhaps with chemical or biological or nuclear terror."

"And by defending our own security, we are freeing the people of Iraq from one of the cruelest regimes on earth," he said.

There was a moment of levity, when Bush opened his address by saying the crowd of Marines was a fine sight - "unless you happen to be a member of the Iraqi Republican Guard."

In keeping with his custom during base visits, Bush walked the chow line with the troops. Marines stood bolt upright as he entered the cafeteria, and Bush tried to set them at ease, commanding: "Sit down, let's eat!"

The outdoor venue for the speech - Goettge Memorial Field - was named in honor of Marines who have died in past conflicts. Throngs of people - many in camouflage fatigues and women pushing baby strollers - lined the sidewalks of the base before Bush's arrival. Flags bearing yellow ribbons fluttered from lamp posts.

As Bush pledged the American-led force would prevail, a woman shouted: "Bombs away!"

Another soldier said quietly, "You tell 'em, Bush."

Thousands of camouflage-clad soldiers sat in a newly constructed arena under a cloudless sky. Thousands more spread across a field, some standing atop a tank to get a better view.

Some military spouses at Camp Lejeune hope Bush will do more than offer encouragement.

Bush took a Democrat - who wants his job - with him. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, who is running for the White House, along with Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., accompanied Bush here aboard Air Force One. Bush campaigned heavily for Dole last year.

Edwards said he and Bush had a "good conversation about the progress of the war." Bush initiated it by visiting the two senators in their cabin on the plane. Asked whether politics came up, Edwards said, "Not really, no."

Bush bristled last week when a reporter asked him how long the war will take. "However long it takes," the commander in chief answered.

But that is precisely the question on the mind of Keri-Lee Johnson, a stay-at-home mother raising a 7-month-old, who wanted the president to tell her how long her husband will be away at war. Staff Sgt. Shawn Johnson left Feb. 7.

His wife wants Bush's frank answer on how long the war will last - "not the standard 'It's going great' opinion," she said.

Other spouses simply appreciate the gesture of support.

Stephanie Gonzales said goodbye to her husband seven months ago. She and Cpl. Ramon Gonzales were middle school sweethearts in Fort Wayne, Ind.

"I go through the complete array of emotions from being scared to being very proud, proud of who I am, proud of my husband, proud of my country," Gonzales said.

Monday, March 31, 2003

We honor our fallen soldiers, who served liberty and justice!

We honor our fallen soldiers, who served liberty and justice!

Following is the official list of American servicemen killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom as of 4 p.m. EST Monday:

March 29:

Marine Staff Sgt. James Cawley, 41, Layton, Utah. Killed in combat.

Army Cpl. Michael Edward Curtin, 23, of South Plains, N.J. Killed when a taxi carrying a car bomb drove up to an Army checkpoint in central Iraq. Assigned to the 2-7th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

Army Pfc. Diego Fernando Rincon, 19, of Conyers, Ga. Killed when a taxi carrying a car bomb drove up to an Army checkpoint in central Iraq. Assigned to the 2-7th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

Army Pfc. Michael Russell Creighton Weldon, 20, of Palm Bay, Fla. Killed when a taxi carrying a car bomb drove up to an Army checkpoint in central Iraq. Assigned to the 2-7th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

Marine Lance Cpl. William W. White, 24, of Brooklyn, N.Y. Killed in a non-hostile vehicle accident in Iraq. Assigned to the 3rd Amphibious Assault Battalion, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Army Sgt. Eugene Williams, 24, of Highland, N.Y. Killed when a taxi carrying a car bomb drove up to an Army checkpoint in central Iraq. Assigned to the 2-7th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

March 28:

Army Sgt. Roderic A. Solomon, 32, of Fayetteville, N.C. Killed when a Bradley Fighting Vehicle rolled off a cliff in a non-hostile accident in Iraq. Assigned to the 2-7th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

March 27:

Marine Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Menusa, 33, of San Jose, Calif. Killed in combat. Assigned to the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Lance Cpl. Jesus A. Suarez Del Solar, 20, of Escondido, Calif. Killed in combat. Assigned to the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

March 26:

Marine Maj. Kevin G. Nave, 36, of Union Lake, Mich. Killed in a non-hostile vehicle accident in Iraq. Assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

March 25:

Navy Hospital Corpsman Third Class Michael Vann Johnson, Jr., 25, of Little Rock, Ark. Killed in combat, when shrapnel from a grenade hit him in the head. Assigned to Naval Medical Center, Third Marine Division Detachment, San Diego.

Marine Staff Sgt. Donald C. May, 31, of Richmond, Va. Killed in combat while conducting convoy operations near the Euphrates River. Assigned to the 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division, Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center, Twenty-nine Palms, Calif.

Marine Lance Cpl. Patrick T. O’Day, 20 of Santa Rosa, Calif. Killed in combat while conducting convoy operations near the Euphrates River. Assigned to 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division, Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center, Twenty-nine Palms, Calif.

Air National Guard Maj. Gregory Stone, 40, of Boise, Idaho. Died from wounds received by a March 22 grenade attack in a tent at Camp Pennsylvania, Kuwait. Assigned to the 124th Air Support Operations Squadron, Idaho Air National Guard, Boise, Idaho.

March 24:

Marine Lance Cpl. Thomas A. Blair, 24, of Wagoner, Okla. Killed in action on the outskirts of Nasiriyah, Iraq. Assigned to the 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, Marine Control Group-28, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, Cherry Point, N.C.

Marine Sgt. Nicolas M. Hodson, 22, of Smithville, Mo. Killed in a vehicle accident in Iraq. Assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Marine Cpl. Evan James, 20, La Harpe, Ill. Drowned while trying to cross the Saddam Canal in southeastern Iraq. Reservist with the Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Center, Peoria, Ill.

Marine Sgt. Bradley S. Korthaus, 28, of Scott, Iowa. Drowned while trying to cross the Saddam Canal in southeastern Iraq. Assigned to Engineering Company C, 6th Engineer Support Battalion, 4th Force Service Support Group, Peoria, Ill.

Army Spc. Gregory P. Sanders, 19, of Hobart, Ind. Killed in action in Iraq. Assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor, Fort Stewart, Ga.

March 23:

Army Spc. Jamaal R. Addison, 22, of Roswell, Ga. Killed when ambushed by enemy forces in Iraq. Assigned to the 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company, Fort Bliss, Texas.

Marine Sgt. Michael E. Bitz, 31, of Ventura, Calif. Killed in action in the vicinity of Nasiriyah. Assigned to the 2nd Assault Amphibious Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Marine Lance Cpl. Brian Rory Buesing, 20, of Cedar Key, Fla. Killed in combat in the vicinity of Nasiriyah. Assigned to the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Marine Lance Cpl. David K. Fribley, 26, of Fort Myers, Fla. Killed in action in the vicinity of Nasiriyah. Assigned to the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Marine Cpl. Jose A. Garibay, 21, of Orange, Calif. Killed in combat in the vicinity of Nasiriyah. Assigned to the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Marine Cpl. Jorge A. Gonzalez, 20, of Los Angeles. Killed in action in the vicinity of Nasiriyah. Assigned to the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Army Pfc. Howard Johnson II, 21, of Mobile, Ala. Killed when ambushed by enemy forces in Iraq. Assigned to the 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company, Fort Bliss, Texas.

Marine Staff Sgt. Phillip A. Jordan, 42, of Enfield, Conn. Killed in action in the vicinity of Nasiriyah. Assigned to the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Marine Lance Cpl. Patrick R. Nixon, 21, of Gallatin, Tenn. Killed in combat. Assigned to the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Marine 2nd Lt. Frederick E. Pokorney Jr., 31, of Nye, Nev. Killed in action in the vicinity of Nasiriyah. Assigned to the Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Marine Cpl. Randal Kent Rosacker, 21, of San Diego. Killed in combat in the vicinity of Nasiriyah. Assigned to the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Marine Lance Cpl. Thomas J. Slocum, 22, of Thornton, Colo. Killed in action in the vicinity of Nasiriyah. Assigned to the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Marine Lance Cpl. Michael J. Williams , 31, of Yuma, Ariz. Killed in action on the outskirts of Nasiriyah. Assigned to the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

March 22:

Navy Lt. Thomas Mullen Adams, 27, of La Mesa, Calif. Killed when two Royal Navy Sea King helicopters collided over international waters. Assigned as an exchange officer with the Royal Navy's 849 Squadron since October 2002.

Marine Lance Cpl. Eric J. Orlowski, 26, of Buffalo, N.Y. Killed by an accidental discharge of a .50 cal machine gun in Iraq. Assigned to the 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Army Capt. Christopher Scott Seifert, 27, of Williams Township, Pa. Killed in a grenade attack while sleeping in a tent at Camp Pennsylvania, Kuwait. Assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.

Army Reserve Spc. Brandon S. Tobler, 19, of Portland, Ore. Killed in a non-hostile vehicle accident in Iraq. Assigned to the 671st Engineer Brigade, Portland, Ore.

March 21:

Marine 2nd Lt. Therrel S. Childers, 30, of Harrison County, Miss. Killed in action in southern Iraq. Assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Marine Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, 22, of Los Angeles. Killed in action in southern Iraq. Assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

March 20:

Marine Maj. Jay Thomas Aubin, 36, of Waterville, Maine. Killed in a CH-46E helicopter crash in Kuwait. Assigned to the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron --1, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma, Ariz.

Marine Capt. Ryan Anthony Beaupre, 30, of St. Anne, Ill. Killed in a CH-46E helicopter crash in Kuwait. Assigned to the Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron -- 268, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Corps Air Station, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Marine Cpl. Brian Matthew Kennedy, 25, of Houston. Killed in a CH-46E helicopter crash in Kuwait. Assigned to the Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron — 268, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Corps Air Station, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Marine Staff Sgt. Kendall Damon Waters-Bey, 29, of Baltimore. Killed in a CH-46E helicopter crash on in Kuwait. Assigned to the Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Corps Air Station, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.