Pence on base: “we’re grateful for you”

Vice President of the United States Michael Pence greets service members and their families Nov. 18, 2018, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. The Vice President and his wife Karen visited the base to meet with Airmen and their families before the holidays. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Quail)

Guam – First one jet, and then another! The second identical Boeing 757 to arrive at Anderson Air Force Base early Sunday evening carried the United States’ second-most precious national security cargo, drafting behind a decoy. Vice President Mike Pence was fresh back from a crisscross journey that brought him to Tokyo, Singapore, Cairns, and Papua New Guinea and two Asian regional summits inside of eight days.

Arriving fit and lively from a whirlwind week in Asia, Vice President Mike Pence stepped off Air Force Two and planted his feet on American soil here in US Guam on Sunday, after time spent abroad cementing a few friendships and rattling a couple of cages across the pond.

Vice President Pence and First Lady Karen Pence were all smiles and waves stepping down the air-stairs as they descend to the tarmac where they were eagerly greeted by dignitaries on their way to meet military service members and their families.

Pence pledged his support to those in uniform and their loved ones “because of the sacrifices that you’ve gone through. You’ve stepped forward, and it’s all a voluntary military…each and every day, you’re here at the vanguard of freedom in Guam, and we’re grateful for you.

“It is appreciated by the people of the United States of America, but I want to assure you, our allies appreciate your service, as well.

“It starts here, at Andersen Air Force Base, where America’s day starts every day, by the men and women who are prepared to prevail every single day. We are proud, we are proud of you guys: Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marines, of course you guys, give yourselves a round of applause. Thank you,” Pence said to an antiphony of cheers and clapping.

Between speeches at the annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) conference in Singapore and the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference in PNG, Vice President Pence alluded to American intolerance with authoritarianism and stood boldly against what he characterizes as China’s debt-trap diplomacy across the Indo-Pacific. China Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping shot back with dire warnings against rumors of cold wars, hot wars, or trade wars exacerbated by the swell of US tariffs against China-made goods.

At the APEC in Port Morseby, Pence announced that the US and Australia had accepted Papua New Guinea’s invitation to redevelop the Lombrum Naval Base at PNG’s Manus Island.

The move is considered a stern pushback to China’s geopolitical ambitions across the Pacific, especially due to the island’s proximity to vital South China Sea trade lanes over which China has asserted controversial territorial dominion in recent years.

At Andersen for the Vice President’s arrival, Governor Eddie Calvo told reporters since Pacific nations’ reconstruction following the wide-scale destruction of World War II, it behooves the US to keep the peace and maintain a ready defense among 21st century allies in the region.

“The revelation about working with Australia and with Papua New Guinea in establishing a military presence there, it’s about reinforcement of America’s treaties and shared responsibilities with places such as Australia, such as Japan, and such as South Korea,” Calvo said.

In a hurry to meet airmen, troops, and service families, Pence waved hello — and then a hearty goodbye to news media who’d waited five hours to take his picture and ask questions. But no interviews were granted. Suddenly, the  nation’s second in command  was whisked away in a black limo into the wild blue yonder.