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Commemorating Vietnam: Sen. John McCain thanks DIA workforce
November 4, 2011
Decorated U.S. naval aviator and honored Vietnam veteran Sen. John McCain addressed an overflow crowd in the DIAC's Tighe Auditorium on Nov. 4, as he recognized and thanked the agency and its veterans for the historic role they played in the fight and close of the Vietnam War.
Gathered to observe the passage of 50 years since the beginning of U.S. military involvement in Vietnam, DIA Director LTG Ronald Burgess delivered opening remarks to a standing-room-only audience that included notable guests Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and former DIA Directors retired LTG Patrick Hughes and LTG James Williams. There were a number of Vietnam veterans in attendance – both current and former employees – many of whom participated in a captivating video tribute that was shown during the event. Employees watched the program from corridors and break rooms around the building and via video teleconference from around the world.
Asking Vietnam veterans in the audience to stand, LTG Burgess thanked them, saying "your service and sacrifices for our nation during Vietnam and beyond are inspirational." LTG Burgess also brought attention to the final days of the evacuation of Saigon, in April 4, 1975, when a C-5 transport plane carrying the first flight of Vietnamese orphans out of the country during Operation Babylift crashed in a rice paddy. "This agency saw selfless sacrifice," he said, recounting that among the casualties were five DIA civilian employees charged with caring for the children on that flight, and the single largest loss of agency personnel until 9/11.
In his remarks, McCain thanked LTG Burgess for the outstanding job he is doing leading DIA and the agency's workforce worldwide. "I only wish that more of Americans could see for themselves the full extent of the remarkable job that that you do every single day for them."
McCain recalled that it was just over 50 years ago that the ink was barely dry on Defense Secretary Robert McNamara's order to establish DIA before the organization found itself on the front lines in Vietnam. Later as President Kennedy began the gradual escalation of Americans involved in that war, DIA not only made its mark and distinguished itself, but it also set the high standard of service that DIA would continue to meet over the decades through the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Six Day War, Operation Desert Storm, the War on Terror and many other historic events that impacted our vital national security interests.
"This is the same standard of service that all of you continue to live up to today," McCain said. "This is a special year for DIA as you mark your 50th anniversary. Of all the agencies of our government, DIA can truly say that it was born fighting."
McCain told both veterans and DIA civilians in the audience that regardless of the uniform they choose to wear, the unit or branch or service of choice, or the work accomplished as a DIA employee, their service and everything they have given to continue their service, "it's worth it – it's always worth it," said McCain. "There's no higher honor than to serve a just cause greater than your own self interests. And for those of you who walked away from a confusing, painful and emotional experience of your time in Vietnam, you never the less chose to remain faithful to the cause of our nation and all who serve it. I commend you."
At the conclusion of his remarks, McCain received the DIA Director's Award, which was presented by LTG Burgess, DNI Clapper, LTG Williams and LTG Hughes. McCain was also given the DIA Operational Intelligence report from Oct. 27, 1967, which cited his Navy A-4E as downed by surface-to-air missiles southwest of Hanoi, and DIA's 50th Anniversary Illustrated History Book.
DIA is the nation’s premier all-source military intelligence organization.
It provides the nation’s most authoritative assessments of foreign military intentions and capabilities. The agency’s four core competencies -- human intelligence, all-source analysis, counterintelligence and technical intelligence -- enable military operations while also informing policy-makers at the defense and national levels.
DIA’s mission is unique and no other agency matches its military expertise across such a broad range of intelligence disciplines.
This page was last updated March 21, 2013.