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President Bush Visits Diego Garcia

05.09.2007 After spending most of Labor Day with U.S. troops serving in Iraq, President George W. Bush made a very brief morning visit Sept. 4 to one of the U.S. Navy’s most remote duty stations in the world: the U.S. Navy Support Facility (NSF) on the island of Diego Garcia, in British Indian Ocean Territory.

“This is the third time now the president has visited a command I’ve been a part of and I’ve always noticed how he gets energized shaking hands and saying hello to our service men and women,” said Capt. Greg L. Looney, NSF Diego Garcia’s commanding officer.

The visit was scheduled with less than 12 hours of notice and a lot of work needed to be done in that short amount of time to prepare for the president’s arrival.

“With as little time as we had, I thought we did a pretty good job,” Looney said.

Security protocols needed to be reviewed and implemented and extra measures had to be put in place to accommodate the president’s aircraft, Air Force One.

“Everyone who worked through the night to get things ready did a fantastic job,” Looney added.

In less than 90 minutes, Bush met with more than 100 military members from both the Navy and Air Force and took the time to pose for several group photographs.

“We got to meet the President and shake his hand,” said Air Traffic Controller 2nd Class (AW/SW) Dustin Wolford, one of the air traffic controllers who helped get Air Force One on-island. “It was exciting, a once in a lifetime experience.”

This was Bush’s first visit to Diego Garcia and the first visit from any U.S. president in quite some time.

Along with meeting many of the Sailors and Airmen of the island, the president took time to speak with Capt. Looney and Royal Navy Cmdr. Gary Brooks, the British Representative for the island, about the many missions of Diego Garcia and its strategic importance in the world.

“He was really interested ... and he understands the importance of our mission,” said Looney.

Despite the short amount of time the president was able to spend on the island, military members were nonetheless grateful to their commander-in-chief for taking time out of his busy schedule to spend time with them.

“I appreciate the president and his team stopping here and being gracious enough to come off the aircraft,” Looney said. “The Sailors, Airmen, chiefs and officers all really appreciated it as well.”

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice was part of the official party and also spent time meeting with the military members of Diego Garcia.

Source: www.navy.mil

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