President Bush told a cheering, flag-waving crowd at a Marine base Friday that the sacrifices of U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf "will end the nightmare of Iraq's brutal occupation" of Kuwait.
With an attack helicopter as a backdrop, the president said the United States and its allies "will prevail . . . and when we do, we will have taught a dangerous tyrant and those few who would follow in his footsteps that there is no place for lawless aggression in this critical region."But the president also cautioned that "achieving our goals will require time and sacrifice."
Bush's mention of sacrifice was particularly meaningful to the Marines and their families who greeted him at this air station. The first ground casualties of the gulf war were Marines, 11 killed as allied forces battled an Iraqi incursion into Saudi Arabia on Wednesday and Thursday.
The president also was stopping at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, N.C., where he planned to meet with the families of two pilots listed as prisoners of war and two others missing in action.
"To all of you - spouses, children, parents, loved ones, Marines - you're doing more than just keeping the home fires burning. Your dedication and bravery is lighting the heart, believe me, it is lighting the heart of every American," Bush told the crowd at Cherry Point.
"Day by day, night by night, Iraq's capacity to wage war is being systematically destroyed," he said.
The trip was Bush's first outside the Washington area this year and his first visit to military installations since he spent Thanksgiving Day with troops in the gulf.
Bush also scheduled an appearance at Fort Stewart in Savannah, Ga. He was flying on to Florida for a private visit with his mother, Dorothy Walker Bush, 89, at the family home in Hobe Sound, near Palm Beach, before returning to Camp David, Md., for the weekend.