Troops from all the branches of the military were on hand to greet the Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Thursday. Hagel didn’t mince words when it came to the importance of Hawaii.
“This is a defining time in the world. This is a defining time right now. This region of the world is going to have a lot to say about how this next world order is built out,” Hagel said.
The 200 or so military personnel and civilians on hand appreciated that message.
“It’s a pretty neat time for us in the Pacific. The President has said we are re-balancing to the Pacific. There is obviously a lot going on in this theater,” U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Todd Emmons said.
Secretary Hagel fielded questions from the troops. One of them asked about military cutbacks and what that means for retirement.
“If you don’t have good people and you can’t keep good people. And you can’t continue to educate them and train them, and develop them it won’t make any difference how good your planes are or any thing else,” Hagel said.
Secretary Hagel then met with those attending, offering a memento.
“I was presented with a coin from the Secretary of Defense. It’s right here. It’s pretty nice. I haven’t received a coin like this and it’s just a humbling experience to receive it,” U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Nathan Miller said.
“Given that he is one of my absolutely top bosses, it was a very big deal. I was sitting there and it was like, ‘Oh my gosh this is one of the guys who writes our policy.’ He determines what I am going to be doing and when I am going to be doing it, and he’s just a normal everyday guy,” said Whitney Prince, U.S. Navy.
Secretary Hagel remarked about how much he loved the Hawaii weather. He didn’t get to enjoy it all that much as he quickly boarded a plane headed towards Singapore, talking about building alliance in the region.