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American Forces Press Service

Lynn Thanks Vinson's Crew for Service, Adaptability

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND, Calif., April 26, 2010 – Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III today thanked the crew of the USS Carl Vinson for their efforts to rescue Haitian people following the earthquake there, actions he said demonstrated the adaptability that makes America’s military the best in the world.

The ship arrived in Haiti soon after the January quake that killed more than 250,000 people. The ship brought food, water and hope to the beleaguered land.

Speaking to about 1,500 sailors in the aircraft carrier’s cavernous hangar deck here, Lynn said that the 400-plus medical evacuation missions that Vinson helicopter crews flew in Haiti represent “at least 400 people who wouldn’t have survived those events without your efforts.”

“You all should be very proud of yourselves for the terrific effort,” the deputy secretary added.

Lynn pointed out that the Vinson’s response demonstrated what is best about the American military – the ability to adapt and plan on the fly.

“You didn’t anticipate this particular operation,” he said. “Of course, you’re trained, and all that you have gone through prepared you for that, but it is the essence of good planning to execute the unanticipated with the kind of excellence that you showed.”

Lynn noted that the mission to Haiti happened against the backdrop of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The conflicts are stressing the forces and their families, he said, and he thanked the sailors and their loved ones for their staunch support. That support, he said, enables the sailors and their fellow servicemembers to excel.

“The world has never seen a military with the quality, excellence and grace that this military has,” Lynn said.

The unanticipated will be the norm for the future, Lynn told the Vinson’s crew.

“As we enter this next decade, we don’t know what type of crises we’ll face,” he said. “We’ll have to draw down our commitment in Iraq and turn that over to the Iraqis. We’re going to have to change the momentum in Afghanistan and hopefully turn over security responsibilities to the Afghans.

“But we don’t know what’s next,” he continued. “So we’re counting on you to keep up the kind of work that you’ve been doing. Keep preparing for things that are unanticipated, just the way you did for the Haiti operation, so you remain the best of the best.”

The deputy secretary re-enlisted a sailor and presented Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals to four members of the crew.

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