President Trump to Speak at U.S. Naval Academy Commencement Friday

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Posted: May 25, 2018 8:18 AM
President Trump to Speak at U.S. Naval Academy Commencement Friday

President Trump will speak to the graduates of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis Friday afternoon ahead of the long Memorial Day weekend.

At the White House Thursday, President Trump issued the Medal of Honor to Navy SEAL Master Chief Britt Slabinski for his bravery in Afghanistan.

"In 2002, Britt was called to support Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.  In the late evening hours of March 3rd that year, he led an elite team on a combat mission to establish a secure position on the peak of a 10,000-foot mountain known as Takur Gahr. Britt and his teammates were preparing to exit the helicopter onto the mountain when their aircraft was struck by a machine gun and machine gun fire like they've never seen before, and a rocket-propelled grenade from al Qaeda terrorists down below.  Not a good feeling.  As the helicopter lurched away from the assault, Petty Officer First Class Neil Roberts was flung out of the aircraft -- tremendous, tremendous, horrible thing to witness -- and onto the side of the mountain before the helicopter crashed into the valley below," President Trump detailed.  "After surviving, barely, the violent crash, Britt and his team were retrieved by a second helicopter; also, by the way, piloted by very brave people.  At this point, Britt received information suggesting their comrade, Neil Roberts, the man thrown out of the helicopter, was probably still alive.  The team faced a choice: to wait for reinforcements and pretty much safety, or to return immediately to the enemy stronghold in the hope of saving Neil’s life."

"They would be outmanned, outgunned, and fighting uphill on a steep, icy mountain.  And every solider knows you don't want to fight uphill.  They learned that at Gettysburg -- you don't fight uphill.  But they would face freezing temperatures, and bitter winds, at the highest altitude of battle in the history of the American military.  This was the highest point where we ever fought.  The odds were not good.  They were not in their favor," he continued. "But Britt and his team didn't even hesitate for a moment.  They made their decision.  For them it was an easy one.  They went back to that mountain."

"You waged a fierce fight against the enemies.  And these really have become the enemies of America and the enemies of all civilization.  Through your actions, you demonstrated that there is no love more pure, and no courage more great, than the love and courage that burns in the hearts of American patriots," he concluded. "We are free because warriors like you are willing to give their sweat, their blood, and, if have to, their lives for our great nation."

The President will speak at 10 a.m. eastern.