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PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Adm. Cecil D. Haney recognized more than 90 Sailors and Marines for their service as individual augmentees (IAs) during the 5th annual "Boots on the Ground" IA Recognition Luncheon at the Ala Moana Hotel in Honolulu, Feb. 28.
The luncheon was hosted by the Navy League of the United States, Honolulu Council and presented by the Partners in Patriotism to honor the service members for filling their individual billet requirements in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and the Republic of the Philippines for various combatant commanders.
"After the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, our traditional way of deploying evolved and became the new reality for the Navy and Marine Corps," Haney said. "We were called to some unusual places, often far away and longer than most deployments. I want to thank and express my gratitude to all those that served IAs and their families through their naval careers and difficult journey, as well as the Navy League and sponsors for hosting such a special event."
Service members filling IA billets serve in critical joint jobs throughout the world and are ambassadors to gain coalition experience with other branches of the U.S. military and other countries.
One of the attendees was Pacific Fleet Sailor Operations Specialist 2nd Class Tremayne Davis, who was deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, from April 2009 to March 2010.
"I volunteered for an IA billet to see and try something different, and going to Djibouti was truly an amazing experience," said Davis, of Cleveland, Miss. "I was able to help local families, be involved in an orphanage program and work with other military services from different countries. This luncheon is really cool to receive gratification as well as meet and thank other IAs."
Since 2001, there have been more than 110,000 IAs; 235 are from 26 different commands on the island, such as Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, Joint Base Pearl Harbor- Hickam and Naval Health Clinic Hawaii.
"As Lt. Col. James Doolittle once said, 'nothing is as strong as the heart of a volunteer,'" Haney said. "Today the military is made up of an unbeatable all-volunteer force but within this organization, many further volunteered for IA assignments. These Sailors and Marines showed unquestionable honor, courage and commitment making America strong and we are forever grateful for their service."
The world's largest fleet command, U.S. Pacific Fleet encompasses 100 million square miles from the west coast of the United States into the Indian Ocean. The Pacific Fleet consists of approximately 180 ships, nearly 2,000 aircraft and 125,000 Sailors, Marines and Civilians.