December 20, 2011

Army Gold Star Families,

As we pause to observe the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom/New Dawn,
I want to extend my deepest gratitude to those who have borne the enormous burden
of sacrifice on behalf of our Nation.

The Secretary of the Army, Sergeant Major of the Army and I have
sent the attached letter to the force. I feel compelled, however, to address our
Gold Star community personally.

No one knows the acute cost of war better than our Gold Star
Families and as we close this chapter of our history, our Gold Star Families
will always be honored and remembered by a grateful Nation.

I know that words will never fully express the sense of loss that
you feel, but I assure you that our Army and our Nation will never forget
those that bravely gave their last full measure in defense of our freedom.

I humbly thank all of you on behalf of the Soldiers, Civilians and
Families of the United States Army.

General Ray Odierno
Chief of Staff, US Army