CAMP TAJI, Iraq, Feb. 15, 2007 - Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Richard A. Cody, took the opportunity to spend some time with 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Soldiers, Feb. 13.

In his visit to Taji, Cody presided over the re-enlistment of six soldiers, and in another ceremony he presented four Soldiers with the Combat Action Badge and two with the Combat Infantryman's Badge.

As he began the re-enlistment ceremony, Cody said a few words praising the Soldiers who decided to re-enlist in the combat zone.

"They're re-enlisting because they're great Soldiers and great Americans, absolutely dedicated to this mission," Cody said. "They want to stay here and serve with you and to stay Cav. That speaks volumes to their patriotism and the teamwork you've built here."

"I'm convinced the reason our re-enlistment numbers (throughout the Army) are high and the reason Soldiers stay in the Army is because of our leaders," he added.

Cody presented the re-enlisting Soldiers with pocket knives and gave coins to the combat badge recipients.

Speaking to a gathering of Soldiers immediately after the ceremonies, Cody praised them for their service.

"You are the most battle-hardened Army we've ever had, and the best Soldiers we've had serving in the combat zone," Cody said. "You're the most talented and the most patriotic."

Cody said today's Soldiers have something going for them that was not true of the Soldiers in previous wars, such as Vietnam.

"You're all volunteers and that says something," he said. "We're a strong Army because of all of you.

"You need to know that the Army is behind you, and the people of America are behind you. Three-hundred million people are depending on you to defend their freedoms and that makes you special," Cody added. "The Army is proud of you, and as Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, I could not be more proud of you."

Over the course of his interaction with the troops, Cody took time to joke with Soldiers and presented all of them with coins.

In closing, Cody said one of the things that make the Army successful in accomplishing its mission is the diversity within its military occupational specialties that run a full gamut of career skill sets, citing examples such as cooks, intelligence specialists, cavalry scouts, infantry and field artillery among many others.

"It takes a team," he said. "All of you - everyone of you - are important."

Spc. Raymond Burke, a personnel service specialist for Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, and a native of Kenavo, W. Va., who re-enlisted during the general's visit, said it was a memorable experience.

"This was a great opportunity," Burke said. "It's not every day a four-star general re-enlists you. It was definitely a surprise and something I'll never forget."