Local News

N.C. Legislators Praise Soldiers, Commanders

Posted March 25, 2003 5:59 a.m. EST

— Top officers from North Carolina's military bases told state lawmakers Monday support back in the United States is critical for the soldiers, airmen and Marines fighting in Iraq.

"It's hard to overstate what a difference it makes to our Marines if they feel like they have strong backing from those back home," said Maj. Gen. David M. Mize, the commanding general of Camp Lejeune Marine Base.

The state Senate invited Mize and several other military commanders to address lawmakers. The Senate unanimously approved a resolution of support for members of the armed services fighting the war on terrorism.

Also attending the ceremony were Maj. Gen. Zannie O. Smith, deputy commanding general of the 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg; Col. Frank Laras, vice commander of the 43rd Airlift Wing at Pope Air Force Base; Col. Paul J. Pisano, station inspector at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point; Col. Steven W. Zander, commander of the 4th Mission Support Group at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base; Capt. Steven Krupa, commanding officer of the U.S. Coast Guard Support Center at Elizabeth City; and Maj. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr., adjutant general of the N.C. National Guard.

The officers received several standing ovations from the legislators.

Smith praised the young military men and women fighting in Iraq, saying they may ultimately become known as the greatest generation.

"What you are doing tonight is maybe the most significant thing you could do, because you are telling us, `We support you,"' Smith said. "We don't need a lot of creature comforts, but we do need the support of our fellow citizens."

About 20 House members also attended the ceremony, during which each officer spoke. The House approved a similar resolution with less fanfare two weeks ago, prior to the outbreak of war.

Sen. Andrew Brock, R-Davie, introduced the Senate resolution.

"We are so fortunate to have so many of these brave patriots who call North Carolina home," Brock said.

After the ceremony, Mize said he believed the war is going well despite bloody encounters that have left 10 Marines from Camp Lejeune dead.

"We've been spoiled here with all the last high-tech conflicts where we've had virtually no casualties," Mize said. "That's not reality, unfortunately. We wish it were."