Vice President Mike Pence visited Fort Bragg, Wednesday. Pence spent the afternoon with Special Operations Soldiers talking about various aspects of their training. He concluded his trip with a speech at Green Ramp’s Pax Shed 3 before departing.
Around 630 Soldiers were in attendance at the vice president’s speech, including Maj. Gen. Brian J. McKiernan, deputy commanding general, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, who introduced Pence.
Eight Soldiers were also chosen to sit on tactical vehicles behind Pence as he spoke. Spc. Richard Heise, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, was one of them.
“I thought it was pretty cool; I’ve never really met anyone famous before,” Heise said. “Two days ago I didn’t even know (Pence) was coming. It was a pretty great opportunity when they asked if I wanted to go to this. It sort of escalated from there. They said, ‘hey, you’re going to be up on the stage.’”
Pence spoke to all of the Soldiers in attendance about the importance of what they do on a day-to-day basis.
“You step forward to protect our families and our nation — our freedom. You put on the uniform, the greatest of all volunteer military assembled in history,” Pence said “The Armed Forces of the United States of America are the greatest force for good in the history of the world, and you are a part of that. You chose to be a part of it, to leave a legacy of freedom for generations.”
Pence introduced his national security advisor, retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, the 35th commander of the 82nd Abn. Div. Kellogg, surprised at being honored on stage, told those in attendance how happy he was to be back at Fort Bragg and
at Green Ramp.
Pence followed up Kellogg by talking about the legacy of Fort Bragg, from its beginnings as a camp in 1918 to the largest U.S. military installation in the world.
“When the emergency deployment phone rings, it’s picked up here at Fort Bragg,” he said.
Pence also spoke about how the generations before fought for the U.S., including his father. That resonated with Heise.
“He talked about most of the reasons why I joined,” Heise said. “My dad and my grandfather were both in, so when he talked about people fighting for the best country in the world, that really hits me. That’s all my dad and grandpa ever talked about. They did a lot for this country, that’s what I want to do.”
The theme of Family struck a chord with others as well.
“I always wanted to be in the military; my grandfather was in World War II,” said Spc. Sean Corcoran, 82nd Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. “Regardless of what people think of him or the president, his words today showed he really does care, not just about the military. That’s how it should be. You could hear the emotion in his voice.”
Pence showed his appreciation for the Soldiers throughout his speech, recognizing several attendees for acts of valor in their careers.
“You all come from the rest of us, but you are the best of us,” he said. “You are Army strong and the American people know it.”