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Arizona senator visits station

By Lance Cpl. Brian J. Holloran | | November 30, 2005

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Arizona Senator Jon Kyl visited the air station Nov. 30 to speak with Station Commanding Officer Col. Ben D. Hancock and a group of Marines who recently returned from deployment for Iraq.

Kyl was in southern Arizona attending meetings dealing with border control issues, among other topics.

“Senator Kyl was in the area and wanted an update on border issues that affect training on our ranges,” said Hancock.

Kyl’s visit on station, while brief, gave the senator a better idea of the need for increased border protection

“The senator expressed a lot of concern over the incursions on the ranges by undocumented aliens and smugglers,” said Hancock, a native of Tempe, Ariz. “The senator has resolved to look into expediting the placement of a border vehicle barricade along the Barry M. Goldwater Range to decrease the amount of traffic on the range. The senator also supported the idea of using better technology and other methods to help secure the border.”

In addition to addressing the border control issue Kyl wanted to speak to Marines who recently returned from deployment to Iraq.

“Senator Kyl also wanted to talk to the Marines who have been deployed to Iraq and personally thank them for their service and stress to them the importance of their mission in Iraq,” said Hancock.

“Senator Kyl was on station to express his respect and faith in the recently returned troops,” said Maj. Ossen Dhaiti, executive officer for Marine Attack Squadron 311.

The senator spoke to the Marines about his experiences in the Middle East and how the people of the state of Arizona and the people in Washington D. C. feel about the war. The senator also asked Marines about their recent return from deployment.

“The senator wanted the Marines to know that, even though some people were against the war, many people still back the war effort and want to see or troops safe and home,” said Dhaiti, a native of Tallahassee, Fla.

“The senator wanted the Marines to know that they are respected and appreciated by the public and that they are not being taken for granted,” said Dhaiti.

“Listening to the senator talk made it feel that, to me, we earned respect for what we did,” said Lance Cpl. Gilbert Hernandez, avionics technician VMA-311. “The senator also told us that he was over in Kuwait recently and that made me respect him a little more.” 

“Hearing the senator talk about how people in Washington (D. C.) feel about the war made me feel better about why we are over there,” said Hernandez, a native of Phoenix. “It didn’t change the way I feel about going back in June though. No matter how anybody feels about us in Iraq, I will go back, because I was ordered to and because it’s my job.”

“In the end, the senator said that he was just thankful that he had the opportunity to visit with these Marines and thank them for their service to our country,” said Hancock.

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