JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. —
Good afternoon. Distinguished guests, family and friends, once again, thank you for joining us today. Mr. President, Secretary Carter, thank you for those kind words, but more importantly thank you for your leadership and for your trust in me in selecting me as your principal military adviser.
Before I begin, I’d like to once again draw your attention to the men and women in formation today. They not only look superb, but, as Secretary Carter said, they represent more than 2 million members of our total joint force. Many of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are forward-deployed. Some are in harm’s way. And as we enjoy today’s ceremony, I’d ask you to keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers as well.
In addition to the many special guests and senior officials who were mentioned by name as the ceremony began, I’d like to thank our family and friends for making the effort to join us. I’m particularly appreciative that my brothers and their families are here, along with Ellyn’s sister, her brothers, and their families.
I’d also like to single out my mom and dad, who are here. I became a Marine because of my dad, and any success that I’ve had in uniform was a result of my mother’s discipline and exacting standards. So, mom and dad, thank you. (Applause.)
More importantly, I want to recognize my wife, Ellyn, and our children, Joseph, Patrick and Kathleen. Without their love and support over these many years, I wouldn’t be standing here today. And, Ellyn, thanks for your willingness to continue to serve our men and women in uniform and their families.
Mr. President, I know I have big shoes to fill. And we’re all indebted to General Marty Dempsey for his extraordinary leadership, commitment and service. And on a personal note, for many years he’s been a great friend, mentor and role model. Deanie has been with him every step of the way, and she’s been a tireless advocate for military families even as she raised three soldiers of her own.
The Dempseys depart active duty today with well-earned admiration, appreciation and affection from all soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, to include the Dunfords. Marty and Deanie, thank you for what you have meant to those of us in uniform and our families. You are what winning looks like.
It’s a deep privilege to have the chance to continue that legacy of leadership. It’s an honor to follow in the footsteps of Admiral Mullen, General Pace, General Myers and the other distinguished chairmen who, on their watch, demonstrated decisive leadership, extraordinary commitment, and a strong moral compass. In the days ahead, I’ll draw strength from their example. And I look forward to serving with my fellow Joint Chiefs, combatant commanders and other senior leaders in our government as we tackle the challenges on our watch.
I see several chiefs of defense from around the world here today. I look forward to working with you and further developing our relationships.
It’s customary for the incoming officer at events like this to be brief, so I’ll close by simply saying how humbled I am for the opportunity to represent our men and women in uniform. They are a true national treasure. My focus in the coming days will be to provide them with the leadership and the support that they deserve.
God bless you all, and Semper Fidelis. (Applause.)