Walking the walk, talking the talk U.S Senators take on Camp Anaconda

Story by Spc. Blanka Stratford

LSA Anaconda had a taste of Congressional flavor when three U.S. Senators visited the base, greeting service members and expressing their gratitude, March 15.

The political powers were Senators John Warner (R) of Virginia, Ted Stevens (R) of Alaska, and Fritz Hollings (D) of South Carolina. All three said they were highly enthused about their trip to Iraq and the opportunity to shake hands with some of America's finest and brightest.

"I am very thrilled to be here," said Sen. Hollings. "It brings me great pleasure to see such courage and such high morale amongst the [service members]. The troops are doing an outstanding job."

Hollings, 80, had served as Ranking Member on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, where he defended a variety of issues such as consumer protection, coastal preservation, and transportation security. Hollings plans to retire from the Senate this year, but said he will continue to support the nation's interests, to include the American Soldier.

"We are all very proud of the members of our Armed Forces," said Sen. Warner, in reference to his and his colleagues' position on U.S. military achievements during Operation Iraqi Freedom. "[Service members] have fought bravely to both preserve the freedom of the United States and to provide freedom for Iraq."

Warner himself had been active duty for more than 12 years, serving for the U.S. Navy during World War II and the Marines during the Korean War. During the Vietnam War, he served in the Department of Defense, completing his service as Secretary of the Navy in 1974.

Warner is currently serving as Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, an organization focused on issues such as the development of defense systems, military research, benefits of service members, and aspects of national security.

"It's an honor having the Senators here," said Sgt. First-Class Michael Banovetz, combat heavy engineer for the 84th Engineer Battalion, Company C, based out of Ft. Richardson, Alaska. "I think this visit provides them with the opportunity to see what all the branches of the military are doing in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom."

On the same token, the Senatorial stopover provided Soldiers with an opportunity to feel good about themselves.

"This visit was very good for morale," said Sgt. Mark Matthews, driver for the 1052nd Transportation Company. "It helps Soldiers see that the people in Congress - the people that make up our government - really do care about the Armed Forces."



Senator John Warner and Sgt Lis Brown
U.S. Senator for Virginia John Warner (R) holds a discussion with Sgt. Lis Brown

Senator Fritz Hollings and Sgt Mark Matthews
U.S. Senator for South Carolina Fritz Hollings (D) speaks to Sgt Mark Matthews, driver for the 1052nd Transportation Company

Senator Ted Stevens
U.S. Senator Ted Stevens (R) of Alaska poses for a picture with a group of soldiers at the LSA Anaconda dining facility.