By U.S. ArmyNovember 21, 2009
Keeping a promise he made to troops in 2003, Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger returned to Iraq Nov. 16, to "pump up" with them at the gym and deliver a message of thanks for their continued sacrifice and service, as well as the sacrifices their families have continued to make.
"I was here in 2003 and, before I left, I said 'I'll be back.' The Terminator always keeps his promise," Schwarzenegger said to a crowd of nearly 400 Servicemembers and civilians at the Sports Oasis dining facility on Camp Victory in Baghdad.
While speaking in the DFAC, he reminded Servicemembers to not get discouraged when questioning their purpose for being here; he also praised them for their continued dedication to the mission.
"I have asked myself many times on the way up why am I doing five, six, seven hours of training every day' Why am I on this strict diet'," he said. "But you know, in the end, you've got to fight through it and inspire each other because you're not here for nothing."
In addition to talking about the importance of not giving up, Schwarzenegger talked about what it meant to him to be a United States citizen, which resonated with some Servicemembers in the crowd.
"Being a naturalized citizen, I certainly appreciated his message about why our country is the best country in the world," said Maj. Richard Skultety, the joint fires and effects battle major with Multi-National Corps-Iraq. "That people seeking a better way of life, liberty and freedom can legally come to the U.S., work hard, persevere, become contributing citizens and prosper, just as he has done."
Schwarzenegger spoke for nearly 30 minutes before making his way through a packed aisle to shake hands, hand out cigars and snap photos with excited troops and civilians.
"Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines always appreciate the presence of a distinguished visitor such as Governor Schwarzenegger, taking time out of their very busy schedules to bond with us," Skultety said.
Bright and early the following morning, Schwarzenegger joined fitness enthusiasts at Camp Victory's Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith gym.
"You've got to pump up those muscles," he said, while spotting a Soldier who was bench pressing 225-pound weights.
Schwarzenegger is a 13-time world body building champion and is known for his role as "The Terminator." He later became the governor of California in 2003.
Before his visit to Iraq, Schwarzenegger was in the Middle East discuss renewable energy matters and security.
"I said to myself, well, it's obvious when you are that close to Iraq you go and visit your Soldiers and the great men and women who are serving this country," he said.