Vice President Cheney visits Chicago area

March 7, 2008 3:06:46 PM PST
Vice President Dick Cheney visited the Chicago-area Friday, boosting the morale of the newest wave of Navy recruits. Cheney was at Great Lakes Naval Training Center where the new sailors are finishing basic training.It was quite a day for the sailors. There were 4,000 of them going through basic training right now. And they were there to see the second in command of the United States wish them well as they become sailors.

The applause was warm, even if the faces retain their military bearing, as America's second in command takes the stage at a place every U.S. sailor knows.

On his fourth birthday, the vice president says that he was amazed at what he thought the Navy could do. Cheney's father was a sailor who came home on leave.

The applause was warm if the faces are inscrutable as America's second in charge takes the stage at a place every U.S. sailor knows. On his 4th birthday, the vice president says he was amazed at what he thought the Navy could do. His father was a sailor who came home on leave.

"He was a yeoman. He pointed to the insignia there on his shoulder, which looked to me an awful lot like a bird. And being only 4 years old, I concluded that when Dad was home, he was just Dad. But when he went back to the Navy, he turned into some kind of man-bird," said Cheney.

Cheney is the first president or vice-president to visit Great Lakes since 9/11. He toured the U.S. battleship Trayer, a triumph of illusion, for it is on this ship naval recruits attempt to pass their final test of basic training, a 12-hour marathon of simulated on-board crises.

The vice president also attended the capping ceremony for recruits. From here, the young men and women, aged 17-25, will head to ships or more military schooling.

"In the months and years ahead, you'll have much more training, many more challenges and some of the most rewarding experiences of your life," said Cheney.

The Navy would not let ABC7 speak with the youngsters in light blue, and their discipline prevented any from stepping out of line to speak. But the officers responsible for their training reflected on the ceremony and what America's newest sailors would be thinking.

"The biggest thing to understand is there is something bigger," said Tom Lestikow, Navy chief petty officer.

"To hear him speak is something that I'll never another get, and I know the rest will not or the recruits," said Elita Hans, Navy chief petty officer.

The vice president did not take questions from reporters but also told the recruits, "the war on terror is a battle for the future of civilization. It's a battle we're going to win." He's off to Michigan now for a Republican fundraiser, then back to Washington Friday.