Remarks by Ambassador Harry K. Thomas, Jr. at the Reception on-board the USS Carl Vinson, May 16, 2011
Magandang gabi sa inyong lahat and to all my Navy friends, American and Filipino, tatag at tibay mula sa dagat!
I am so thrilled to be here tonight, on board the Carl Vinson. To the crew of this great ship, and to the crews of all the ships in Carrier Strike Group One—on behalf of myself and my colleagues at the US Embassy—we thank you all for your service to our nation. We are so proud of you, and you honor us with your invitation to come on board today.
It gave me great pride to be here on Saturday with President Aquino, who reaffirmed our historic defense and cultural alliances, and reiterated the Philippine alliance with the United States. Thank you, Mr. President, for your friendship and for visiting this great ship.
Standing here on board one of the finest ships in our Navy, I am reminded of a simple truth: the very backbone of our formidable Navy lies not only in the strength of its ships and the speed of its aircraft; it is the people that man those ships and pilot those planes. It is to those who sacrifice so much and serve on board ships like these that we owe our thanks.
They are some of the best our nation has to offer, and we are proud to have them here in the Philippines to exemplify the values we hold so dear. And ladies and gentlemen, I am so proud to say that among these great sailors and marines—these dedicated service men and women—are a great number of Filipino-Americans.
It gives me great pride to be here among representatives of our two great navies—navies with a shared history of sacrifice and valor, based on dedication to duty, and respect for human rights. This shared history exemplifies the commitment to others and abiding love of country that bind us together.
And this history is simply a beginning. I agree with the reporter who recently wrote that “the honor accorded to President Aquino shows (that) the closeness of the United States and the Philippines does not only extend to treaty ties; it is built on blood and shared relationships!” Tonight, I reaffirm that statement. Now and in the future, we will maintain our strong relationship, and we are dedicated to being your partner whenever you are in harm’s way. This is a commitment born of our shared histories and close ties, and we are proud to stand by your side.
To that end, may bagong barko, ang Hukbong Dagat ng Pilipinas! We are exceedingly proud that the ex-US Coast Guard cutter Hamilton—now named the Barko ng Pilipinas Gregorio del Pilar—was transferred to the Philippine Navy on May 13th. This is yet another example of the United States’ commitment to partnering with the Philippines.
To my friends on board the Carl Vinson, Vis Per Mare (Carl Vinson motto: strength from/through the sea). Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat!