Marine Corps Air Facility
11:21 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: So they gave me this hat. It says: “Presidential Helicopter Squadron.” Would you wear it? Now, no other President would do this. But I will, because I’m proud of you. (Applause.) I’m proud of you. What the hell.
Oh, you are nice. I can’t see you in this. (Laughter.) You are — you mean, so you’re the ones taking care of my helicopter, right? (Applause.) I better be nice to you. (Laughter.) I better be nice to you.
I want to congratulate — I know the talent. I’ve had many helicopters. You know, I’m very spoiled; I’ve had helicopters. (Laughter.) And we ordered a couple of big, beautiful new ones. You know about that, right? They paid a lot more than I would have paid, and I would have had them even better, but we won’t talk about that. They paid a lot of money. (Laughter.)
But I want to thank Colonel Hoffman very much. The job you do is incredible. The job that this group of people do is incredible. Colonel, how many presidents have come out to see them? Who was that?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible) — eight years ago.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, eight years ago. Good. Good. President Obama, no? (Applause.) I don’t know.
Well, it is great to be here, surrounded by the Marines. You know, I have a four-star Marine. We just had to get it right. So I picked a four-star Marine. Could have picked a lot people. Everybody wants to be Chief of Staff, right? But I had to go to the Marines.
Where’s Kelly? Where is he? Where is he? Come on over here, Kelly. Come here. Four stars. (Applause.) Say hello. Say hello.
GENERAL KELLY: Best job I ever had — you’ve heard me say it before — being a sergeant in the Marines. Second best job, this one. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: You know, he always said — he always said that. He liked being out there fighting. But we’ll try and keep you out of the fighting. But if we have to fight, oh, boy, it’s not going to be pretty.
You know, we just approved — our enemy is in trouble — we just approved $700 billion, which is the largest ever approved. We got it done. And we’re giving you new equipment. We’re giving you new everything. Because we got depleted over the last eight years — over the last, beyond that.
We’re not depleted anymore. We’re going to have the best equipment in the world. In fact, I’ve been listening, and I have to tell you, it’s true with General Kelly, but I have a lot of Marines with us. Another one is a man named “Mad Dog” Mattis, right? (Applause.) They like him. I love that name. I don’t know if he likes it, actually. I’ve never figured out if he likes the name, but he really deserves the name.
You know, we’ve made tremendous success and had tremendous success now with getting rid of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. I let them do their job. You don’t have to call the White House when you’re getting ready to fight. You know, in the old times — the last administration — you called the White House and you get approval. Not anymore. Not anymore.
So they went out; they’ve done their job. I hear we’re doing really good in Afghanistan. You saw that. I let them do their job. And I let the colonels and the majors and the all of them — the captains — that’s what they do. They graduate, they’re smart, they’re tough, and they do their job. They don’t have to call me to get approval to go into battle with people in places that most people never heard of, but they’re very important.
But we’ve made tremendous progress in Afghanistan, which is tough, because history has proven Afghanistan is a tough place to win. But we’re winning. We just started winning.
And I just want to thank Secretary Mattis. And I really want to thank the United States Marines — really special people. So you’re fantastic people. And when we were around them, they said, sir, if you’d like we can stop, but we don’t have to. I said, are you crazy? Of course, I have to stop.
And, by the way, how good is that sucker with all of those moving parts? Is that good stuff? Huh? Is that good? (Applause.) You know, it’s General Kelly’s favorite. He loves it. And should I love that one?
THE PRESIDENT: It’s perfected now, right?
THE PRESIDENT: Huh? Any no’s out there? Are there any no’s? No? I have a lot of respect for it. It’s an amazing concept.
But for more than half a century, Marine Helicopter Squadron One has served as one of the most visible symbols of the presidency. Today, there are few sights more awe-inspiring than Marine One flying up the Potomac — true, incredible — past the Washington Monument and landing on the South Lawn of the White House. It’s an incredible privilege to take that flight.
I remember the first time I got on Marine One. Air Force One, Marine One — I said, which was better? I wouldn’t tell you. You know why? Because I don’t want the word to get back to some other people. (Laughter.) But I felt very, very good about our country. I’m very proud of our country when I got that first flight and every time I get on it. So I appreciate the job you do. Thank you.
It’s an honor to serve as your Commander-in-Chief. And we love you folks and we’re going to take care of you like you’ve never been taken care of before — and I think you know that. Every time I climb on the incredible machine, I think of United States Marines.
This year, the HMX-1 has executed more than 6,300 flight hours at 160 presidential lifts. Every step of the way, the Nighthawks have been flawless — every step. Thank you for your incredible care. Really, it’s a care for the office of the presidency, of myself and my family. Your professionalism is a fitting tribute to all who wear the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor. You know what I mean by that, right? (Applause.)
A Marine is often the last person I see when leaving the White House and the first upon my return. Nothing is more reassuring. And my pledge to you is that I will have your back just as you will always — and have always — had mine.
This week, I signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act, which authorizes major investments in weapon systems, equipment, and most importantly, in you. I’m pleased to report this legislation also includes the largest pay raise you have received in more than eight years. (Applause.) I guess I’m a bad negotiator. (Laughter.)
I will fight to ensure Congress funds these priorities and funds your priorities — eliminates the defense sequester. We want to get rid of the sequester. The sequester, you all know what that is; that has been very hard on our military, and I think we’ll have it gone. And I know the General is working on it and we’re going to get it out. We don’t want it — especially in these times. These are dangerous times. The stronger we are, the less likely we will have to use that strength, right?
And it provides you and your incredible families what we just signed with the kind of support that you deserve. We’re working every day on your behalf. And together, we are going to make America stronger than ever before.
You know, I ran a campaign, and it was a very successful campaign — you might have heard about it — and we won very easily. We won by — we had 306 Electoral College votes to 223, or something like that. Remember they used to say, “There is no way for Trump to get to 270.” Remember? Over and over again. That’s called voter suppression. If you believe that, you might say, “I love Trump but I’m not going to waste my time — let’s go see a movie and we’ll come home and watch the results tonight.” Right? But everybody said, “No, I’m not going to a movie; we’re going to vote.” And they voted.
And we didn’t get to 270; we got 306. That’s even better, right? So we had an amazing time. But I had an expression that I think goes down as the best of all time. It was very simple: Make America Great Again. Right? (Applause.) Make America Great Again. And that’s what we’re doing — we’re making America great again. And it’s people like yourselves that are doing it. I am so impressed.
So, again, I want to thank you all. Say hello to your families. Tell them the respect I have for them, because they have to put up with everything so this can all happen. They don’t get the credit they should get. You know, they don’t get the — the families never, ever get the credit. But they have done an incredible job in this kind of — when they produce people like you. So you go home and you give your families a big, beautiful kiss from the President of the United States, because we’re proud of them and we’re really, really proud of you.
Thank you for the great job you’ve done. Thank you, everybody. (Applause.) Honored to be here. Thank you. (Applause.)