Feb. 12, 2013 -- SecArmy McHugh remarks at Romesha Hall of Heroes Induction Ceremony
February 28, 2013
It's particularly special that we are joined by our great leader here in the Pentagon, Mr. Secretary, Mrs. Panetta, Thank you so much for being here. Chief [CSA General Odierno], you didn't mention your beautiful bride; we're thrilled that she's here as well. Sergeant Major; Distinguished Members of Congress; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Dempsey, Welcome. All of the leaders both uniform and civilian of the Pentagon. And most importantly, of course, Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha, his beautiful bride, Tammy, and as the Chief very amply recounted their many, many family members and many, many friends; to all of you, again, welcome.
We're so thrilled to have this chance -- this is a proud and historic day; certainly one for the Army, but one for the Nation, as well. Because it's one in which we welcome another American Soldier into what is a very elite company of our nation's Hall of Heroes.
But as the Chief said, as important as these moments and these ceremonies are, it's important to note, as well, that we are joined by the families and friends of other heroes of the Black Knights troop, those who fought that day and laid down their lives; whose valor and sacrifice are the very bedrock upon which this nation has been built. Make no mistake, they are men who, had they never served, had they never put on the uniform of this great nation, they would have left these United States a far, far lesser place. And, I'd like to, again, ask our Gold Star Families to please rise in recognition of the great sacrifice their families have made, as well. [applause] Thank you, for the great sacrifice that you, your families, and your loved ones have made, you will never be forgotten in these halls, or in this Nation.
Winston Churchill once remarked that "while a medal glitters, it also casts a shadow." And no medal in American history casts a greater shadow than that of the Medal of Honor. And it is recognition of uncommon courage, a tribute to extraordinary valor; and its size and its weight are not measured in inches and not measured in ounces -- but, rather, in deeds and in history.
And, as the Chief noted, we are honored that some who have walked in that shadow, who, indeed, have cast their own significant shadow, have joined us today: Lieutenant General (Retired) Robert Foley, Colonel (Retired) Harvey C. Barnum, Jr. and 1LT (Retired) Brian M. Thacker. I won't ask them to stand again; not because they are undeserving of the recognition, but I know what it is to get old, and guys I don't want to wear you out; but it's so wonderful of you to join us and welcome one into your elite unit. Thank you for your valor, your service, and your great sacrifice, Gentlemen. God bless you.
I would respectfully suggest Staff Sergeant Romesha, that you would do well to draw upon the experience of these great gentlemen, and their inspiration as you navigate the days and months ahead as the newest member of this most select, exclusive, and honored group. They, like you, are extraordinary, and it is most fitting that you stand together.
Now, I know this has been a whirlwind week of activity for you, Clint and of course for Tammy, your children, your parents, and all the family and friends. I think it's very important that you share this together, as a family, because, I suspect, that's where a lot of your strength came from, Clint, from your family, particularly from the strength that Tammy provided at home is what enabled him to find a great deal of the courage you have demonstrated on the battlefield -- and the ability to lead against such overwhelming odds.
Clint and Tammy are, what we call where I hail back from, back in the rural parts of New York state, high school sweethearts. Well, junior high, actually. Clint was in eighth grade and Tammy was in seventh. I wouldn't say that Clint was exactly robbing the cradle, but he was dating a younger woman. And something must have worked, because, as the President [Obama] mentioned yesterday, today is their 13th wedding anniversary. I'm not sure if it was orchestrated, but it's worth noting that there are 13 stars festooned on the ribbon from which this great medal hangs. Something of fate and fortune there. Congratulations to you both.
Now, I don't like to go into rumor, but I'm told, and I'm not sure this is true, but when Tammy asked what Clint planned to get her for their anniversary, he said "a free trip to DC." I'm not going to ask if that's true, but I will say, Tammy, it's none of my business, but if I were you, I wouldn't let him off the hook quite that easily. I want to let you in what some people say is one of the benefits of being in the Pentagon, the largest office complex in the world. You may have noticed there are a few stores around the corridors -- there's a drugstore, in case Clint forgot to get you a card. But we also have a chocolate shop, a florist, and we have a jeweler -- and all just a few short steps away. So after the ceremony, Clint, take the lady shopping. She's earned it. Again, Congratulations.
I've had a chance to break bread with Clint and Tammy and their families and there's no question that the two of them have a very special bond, and are tremendous partners. If there was any doubt of that, I think Dessi, Gwen, and Colin are evidence of that love and devotion. And in Colin's case, evidence of the energy that comes from that great pairing. Clint has said numerous times how blessed he's been to have the opportunity to lean on Tammy; and how together, they came through the strain of deployments, and the heartache of losing friends. Clint calls Tammy his anchor point, his base, always pointing him to true north. Well, other than the Navy-like references -- jointness, we teach that in this building; good call, Clint -- it's clear demonstration of the devotion he has to Tammy, and their commitment to one another, and it is powerful and it is truly heartfelt.
It's also important to note, and we should also be grateful, that so many in this great family have served our Nation, as well. It seems that military service in their ranks is a way of life, and that you all did more in your family than enlist -- you answered a calling. And Clint, just as your grandfather did in World War II, your dad did in Vietnam, you, and your brothers -- Travis and Preston -- have done as well, fighting for and serving your country in time of war. And that's just an incredible family legacy. Truly, thank you all for your service and your devotion to liberty.
As I was preparing for today's ceremony, I had an opportunity to watch some of the interviews that Clint had done before this week's events. I've had the true privilege, now, to take part in a few of these Medal of Honor ceremonies -- including those for Sergeants [Leory] Petry and [Sal] Giunta. Listening to some of Clint's words during those interviews, one of the things that truly stood out really placed him in the ranks of those who went before -- a tremendous humility, an insistence that this honor, this medal, is not just for him, but truly belongs to those he served and fought. And as we've noted, some of whom, tragically, never came home. And Clint said, he will wear the Medal of Honor for the "Soldiers who supported him, the friends he knew, the good times they had, [and] the hard times they had." And as the Chief noted, he declared as well that he won't wear the medal simply for himself, but for all those Soldiers, as he put it, "past, present and future, and for the spouses who stick with them, through thick and thin."
And as the Chief introduced, some of the Soldiers that stuck together through thick and thin are here today, Clint's battle buddies, some of the men of Black Knights troop, who on that day in October in 2009 stood shoulder to shoulder in defense of their mission and in defense of each other. Gentlemen, please stand again and be recognized as Clint's battle buddies. Thank you so much for being here.
I mentioned that great champion of freedom Winston Churchill in my opening; and let me close by again using his statement that medals, indeed this Medal of Honor, cast a great shadow over those who earned it; an ever present reminder of battles fought, and lost and conspicuous gallantry - risking your own life above and beyond the call of duty -- all of those things indeed merit our nation's gratitude.
It's a shadow that you will walk in together, cast even larger by those with whom you served -- those who supported you, the friends you knew, the Soldiers, the spouses, the families-past present and future.
Clint you earned this medal, you earned it through your bravery, but you also earned it through your character. And we're so very very proud to have this opportunity today to share in this moment that you earned.
And Clint, Tammy, family, friends, congratulations on this great honor. Thank you so much for your service, for your devotion to duty and to country. God bless you, God bless our Army, God bless America.