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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 16, 2003

President Presents Commander-In-Chief's Trophy to Air Force Academy
Remarks by the President at the Presentation of the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy
The East Room

President's Remarks


2:35 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Coach, how are you?


THE PRESIDENT: Sit down, please.

COACH DEBERRY: Thank you, sir. Honored to be here.

THE PRESIDENT: Thanks. Getting to be a habit. (Laughter and applause.)

I'm proud to welcome back to the White House the Air Force Academy Falcons, who have now won the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy for their six consecutive year, and 16th time overall. (Applause.) The football rivalry amongst our academies is -- our military academies is one of the great traditions in our nation. And I want to congratulate the Air Force Fighting Falcons for supremacy on the football field.

I particularly want to say something about Fisher DeBerry. He's obviously a unique guy who has got the unbelievable ability to motivate people in a good way. So, Coach, I congratulate you. We're proud of you. And the school and the men you coach are better off for your presence.

I want to thank the members of the Congress who are here. For some reason it seems like the Colorado congressmen have taken an interest for being here. (Laughter.) Senator Allard, thanks for coming; and, Congressman Hefley, as well, Congressman Dicks, from the state of Washington, and Congressman Sam Johnson, from the state of Texas. Thank you all for coming. I appreciate you guys being here.

Sam is an old fighter pilot -- well, not an old fighter pilot. (Laughter) -- was a great fighter pilot -- (laughter) -- who one time dead-sticked a Cessna onto the Dallas -- the Dallas Tollway -- at night. (Laughter.) That's how he got to be elected to the Congress. (Laughter.)

Jim Roche is with us, the Secretary of the Air Force. Thank you for coming, Mr. Secretary. The Acting Superintendent of the Air Force, General Weida is with us, as well. I'm glad you're here. I want to thank you all for coming, as well. The folks that -- not only the players, but the folks that make sure the players get the helmet and the water and the tape on their ankles, and the people who support Air Force football.

The academies are really important for a lot of reasons. Obviously, what you learn on the football field is even more important since we're still at war. And it's the qualities that you learn on the football field that will serve our nation in good stead after you graduate. Some of your fellow football players saw war in Iraq. And as a result of their bravery and their skill, the country is now more secure, the United States people are more secure, the world is going to be more peaceful, and the Iraqi people are now free from the clutches of an incredibly brutal dictatorship. What you -- the character you displayed in your drive to be the best will serve our nation well. Because we're still at war. We learned that lesson in Saudi Arabia the other day. An al Qaeda -- a group we think is al Qaeda killed innocent life just for the sake of killing them.

And we'll do everything we can to protect our homeland. We'll do the best we can with the Transportation Security Agency. We'll do a better job on the borders. But the surest way to protect our homeland is to find these killers and bring them to justice, which is what the United States of America is going to do. The skills you have learned on the football field and at the Air Force Academy are going to be necessary skills to protect the American people from the true threats of the 21st century.

So I'm proud to welcome you all here as football stars and champions; but I'm more proud to be able to reassure our fellow Americans that people of high calibre and high quality and high skill will serve in our nation's defense during a dangerous time, which will allow me to boldly predict the United States of America will win the war on terror. (Applause.)

And so it was an honor to bring a -- you call it a six-pack when you win six years in a row? (Laughter.) Six-pete. A great coach and a great American. Welcome. (Applause.)

(Gifts are presented to the President.) (Applause.)

END 2:44 P.M. EDT

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