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Obama Receives Farewell Tribute From Military

Departing commander in chief, President Barack Obama, salutes the troops during an armed forces full honor farewell ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Jan. 4, 2017. (Army photo by Pvt. Gabriel A. Silva)
Departing commander in chief, President Barack Obama, salutes the troops during an armed forces full honor farewell ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Jan. 4, 2017. (Army photo by Pvt. Gabriel A. Silva)

With ruffles and flourishes and a few tears in the audience, the U.S. military paid a "Farewell Tribute" Wednesday to President Barack Obama, who called his time as the civilian chief of the armed forces the "greatest privilege" of his life.

"Mr. President, thank you for being a Commander-in-Chief that we have been proud to follow," Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford said on behalf of all the services.

"You were there," Dunford said of Obama, when troops were deployed to combat zones, when they returned home to heal, and "finally, Mr. President, you were there at Dover Air Force Base to receive the remains of the fallen."

Dunford, who will remain as Joint Chiefs Chairman in the Trump administration, noted that Obama was the first president to serve two full terms with the nation at war. "We recognize and appreciate your service, your sacrifice and your commitment to the force," Dunford said.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter followed Dunford at the pass-in-review ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall near the Pentagon and said that Obama will "feel the warm wind of a nation's gratitude at your back" as he departs the presidency.

There was no mention in the tributes of the difficulties and setbacks that occurred on Obama's watch -- the return of troops to the Middle East to fight Islamic State militants, the terror raid in Benghazi, Russian aggression in Europe, China's push into the South China Sea, the ongoing civil war in Syria, newly-fraught relations with Israel, and many others.

In his own remarks, Obama paid tribute to the troops and also appeared to grow emotional at times as he called on them to stay true to their "core principles" and uphold "American values" under a new Commander-in-Chief in President-elect Donald Trump.

U.S. service members must respect the rule of law and do their utmost in their duties to avoid civilian casualties, Obama said. "We cannot sacrifice the very freedoms we are fighting for," he said.

Any of the accomplishments attributed to him during the course of his presidency --"they're because of you," Obama said of all those in uniform.

"And so, although I recognize that the formalities require me listening to praise directed in large part to me, I want to turn the tables -- I am still Commander-in-Chief, so I get to do what I want to do -- and I want to thank you," Obama said.

"Of all the privileges of this office -- and there are many -- I will miss Air Force One, I will miss Marine One -- - -- but I can stand before you today and say that there has been no greater privilege, and no greater honor, than serving as the Commander-in-Chief of the greatest military in the history of the world."

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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