MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC -- It is not unusual these days to turn on the news and see elected officials engaged in political debates about the Global War on Terror. U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), took time away from Washington, D.C. this week to personally deliver his message of support to Air Station Marines and sailors.
“I just wanted to be here to tell the Marines that we are proud of what they are doing,” DeMint said. “I wanted to tell these Marines first hand that we are gonna win this.”
DeMint visited the Air Station Monday to get a first-hand update on the mission and capabilities of Fightertown and its impact in South Carolina’s Lowcountry.
His tour of the installation included visits to three squadrons here - Marine Wing Support Squadron 273, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 and Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224.
At each squadron, the senator took a moment to thank Fightertown’s Marines and sailors for their service and ongoing contributions to the Global War on Terrorism. He also answered questions from Leathernecks.
Questions ranged from issues such as Base Realignment and Closures, education benefits for veterans to the President’s timeline for the war in Iraq.
“I can say that around 90 percent of those in the House and Senate support what you are doing,” DeMint told Marines. “We are not going to leave until we win. We are not going to cut and run.”
While aboard the Air Station, DeMint also took the time to present two Bengals officers with Air Medals for their successful combat missions in Iraq.
Major Scott Creed, a weapons and sensors officer, was awarded the third through tenth Air Medal, and Capt. Erik Peterson, a pilot, was awarded the first through sixth Air Medal.
“It shows that he really does care,” said Cpl. Matthew Wagner, a communications and navigation troubleshooter for the Bengals. “He took the time to come down here and talk to us and present our pilots with medals. It is really motivating.”
Other Bengals shared the same sentiment.
“It was an honor for the senator to come here and present two pilots with medals,” said Sgt. Ernest Wiley, operations chief for the Bengals. “Not only for the pilots, but for the entire squadron.”
The station’s top leaders also appreciated the senator taking time to talk to the younger Marines, according to Col. Robert Walsh, the MAG-31 commanding officer.
“I think it is good for the Marines and sailors to meet the senator,” said Walsh. “It’s good that the policy makers come down to meet the young Marines and sailors.”
For his part, DeMint enjoyed his first time aboard the Air Station as a U.S. Senator and was touched by the Marines he met.
“I’m impressed by the good morale; the determination that the Marines show,” DeMint said. “It’s good to see the people who are making it happen face-to-face.”