Vice President Joe Biden visited North Carolina's Fort Bragg Wednesday to welcome home members of the 18th Airborne Corps after a 15-month deployment in Iraq.
"I am in my twenties in terms of my visits to the Balkans and all they way through Afghanistan and every place in between," he said to a group of 1,700 spectators and 1,200 soldiers during the hour and a half ceremony. "I committed when I was elected to the United States Senate as a twenty nine year old kid that wherever I voted to send a man or a woman I would go to see how they were doing."
"I have been incredibly, incredibly impressed," Biden added of his impressions of U.S. troops abroad. "My only regret is that the rest of America is not standing next to me, literally seeing."
The Vice President spent the majority of his second visit to Fort Bragg since being elected expressing gratitude to the returning troops.
"You did more than I suspect you even know," Biden said. "You went in the midst of what was an uncertain future for Iraq and you left a country where violence is replaced by progress."
"Everybody acts now like this was a done deal, this was a certainty, but it was not -- it was not," he continued, lauding the soldiers for making strides against Al Qaeda in Iraq. "So you have made sure those provincial elections took place at the beginning of this year, the first of what will be basically four elections in that country."
The Vice President reiterated President Obama's point yesterday that responsibility should begin to transition to the Iraqi people.
"You and your predecessors built the capacity of the Iraqi security forces to a point -- to a point where the president could announce the drawdown of American combat forces from Iraq," he said.
He presented soldiers several awards, including three bronze stars and a meritorious service medal for a Chaplain, according to the Associated Press.
Biden was joined by his wife, Jill. Their son Beau is currently serving with the Delaware National Guard in Iraq.
The president assured the soldiers and military families that he and others "understand the sacrifices your family made."
"I want you to know that my wife and I know, President Obama and Michelle Obama know, my colleagues in the Congress know -- and we appreciate it more than you can imagine," he explained.