MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. --
A group of Fightertown Marines joined President George W. Bush for a luncheon Tuesday at Charleston Air Force Base.
The crowd of approximately 300 included 25 Fightertown Marines, 165 airmen, 45 sailors and five Coast Guardsmen all from the South Carolina area.
The service members listened as President Bush spoke of war efforts in Iraq, the Sept. 11 attacks and current threats pertaining to the War on Terror.
“When we have somebody in harm’s way, they deserve the full support of Congress and the president – and you all have the full support of Congress and the president,” said President Bush during his speech. “I say that there will be a big defeat in Iraq, and I say it will be the defeat of Al Qaeda. America can accept nothing less than complete victory.”
The Marines who attended the luncheon were chosen by their units to go to the luncheon, explained Sgt. Maj. David Carter, the Air Station sergeant major. Guidance was given to choose sergeants and below as well as one officer and one staff noncommissioned officer.
One Fightertown Marine, Cpl. Edward Silva, an ordnanceman with Marine All-Weather Attack Squadron 533, was selected to join the president at the head table where he ate lunch with the president and representatives from the other services.
According to Carter, Silva was chosen to sit at the head table as a reward for his having been selected as the noncommissioned officer-of-the-quarter for Marine Aircraft Group-31.
“I never thought I’d be doing this,” Silva said. “I got a phone call Sunday telling me I’d be going and today they told me that I’d be sitting at the head table. He’s a very interesting man to sit with.”
After the lunch, President Bush took time to walk around, speak with and shake the hand of every service member in the room.
“It was a good experience,” Silva said. “It was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to do this again and I’m grateful to the MAG for letting me do it.”