DALLAS, Jan. 11, 2011 -- Gen. George W. Casey Jr., chief of staff of the Army, joined several hundred supporters at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, today, to welcome home the Rest and Recuperation flight of the one millionth servicemember.

"It's wonderful to be here and to participate in this ceremony today; but most importantly, to say 'thank you' to all of you who make this possible," said Casey. "I know those veterans from Vietnam that were recognized just a bit ago. When they came into the United States through the airports they didn't have the kind of welcome that you are giving our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines today. It has become such a big part of our ability to sustain this all-volunteer force, which is now in its tenth year of war."

Fanfare led by Tuskegee Airmen and Vietnam veterans, was a major part of the Army's one millionth R&R commemoration, said Sgt. 1st Class Liuva Ruiz, who helps process thousands of servicemembers at the airport's DFW Personnel Assistance Point. Dallas is by far one of the most supportive cities for servicemembers, she added.

"For the welcoming, [people] are always willing to go ahead and clap," said Ruiz. "I've seen them purchase lunches for Soldiers in the airport - just complete strangers [who want] to show their support for those servicemembers."

Casey, whose son recently earned R&R leave, said he understands the uplift servicemembers experience when a person acknowledges their service through various acts of kindness, including but not limited to verbal appreciation.

"What a difference it makes to have a soldier get off the plane and to have people there to say, 'Welcome home,'" said Casey.

He said when people approach servicemembers walking through airports to say, "Thank you for what you do," or to have people who pick up the tab for a breakfast or a lunch or to have people give up a seat on an airplane, is notably important.

"The message that communicates to our Soldiers and to their families is that their sacrifices are both recognized and appreciated by the people of America," said Casey.

Soldiers who either arrive to take leave or depart upon completion of R&R, said a simple thank you means a lot.

Spc. Dale Newcomb of 1st Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, was departing to a combat zone the day prior to the one millionth R&R celebration. Newcomb just completed a second R&R. He said the committee of people at the airports made him feel very welcomed.

"It's a very warm and welcoming environment to come back to," said Newcomb, "This environment kind of drives you on - like 'I can pull through this, I'm doing something good.'"

Newcomb said he believes that if he had not heard words of encouragement on his returns to the U.S. he would not be able to continue to serve.

"I couldn't do it without this environment," said Newcomb. "Everybody has their reasons for joining. I don't care what your reason is. Just having to know someone appreciates what you're doing means a lot."

Casey said all of the volunteers and individuals who take time to recognize Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines day after day, make a significant impact on America's defense.

"We could not do what we have done as an Army and what we have done as an armed forces to protect this country over the last 10 years if it were not for that," said Casey.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16