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U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release

  No. 286-10

Statement by Secretary Gates on the death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski and the military leadership traveling with him

Today, I want to express my deepest and sincere condolences to Polish Minister of Defense Bogdan Klich and the Polish military on the tragic deaths of their Commander in Chief as well as their Armed Service Chiefs and other military personnel who were traveling to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre.

Poland is one of America's closest allies, and our nations are united by a shared heritage and a shared commitment to defend the values of freedom and democracy. In this accident, Poland has lost some of its most brilliant and dedicated patriots and public servants -- citizens who have transformed their country into a model of peace and prosperity at the center of the Euro-Atlantic community.

The military personnel lost in this tragic accident in some cases had served together side by side with American forces in combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Many were spearheading the transformation of the Polish Armed Forces and attended U.S. military schooling. All served with great distinction in the proud military tradition of the Republic of Poland. The United States military mourns the loss of so many cherished Brothers in Arms.

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