Petraeus lauds vets, Purple Heart recipients in NY

June 25, 2010 8:38:36 PM PDT
Gen. David Petraeus paid tribute to more than 400 veterans - including 100 recipients of the Purple Heart - Friday in upstate New York, days after he was asked to add command of the U.S. war in Afghanistan to his leadership of the war in Iraq.

Four star general David Petraeus returned to the Catskills Friday, it was his home before the army was his home.

"It's great to be back in the Hudson Valley," Gen. Petraeus said.

Before General Stanley McChrystal flamed out in the pages of "Rolling Stone" magazine this week, before President Obama relieved him of his duties and asked Petraeus to take McChrystal's place, the General had agreed to attend a ceremony honoring the military's Purple Heart recipients.

The Purple Heart is the medal awarded to those wounded in combat.

Despite his new mission, Petraeus honored his commitment and those soldiers' sacrifices.

"All of them know personally and deeply the terrible grind of constant combat. They persevered through long, hard days of fighting, enduring crushing heat and withering cold. They suffered through the loss of their comrades in arms, the brothers and sisters alongside whom they fought day after day and night after night," Gen. Petraeus said.

Petraeus said the men and women he commands now take inspiration from the valor of those who sacrificed before them.

"As our troopers press on with their tough missions, they draw enormous inspiration, strength, and encouragement from stories like yours," Gen. Petraeus said.

The general did not discuss his new responsibilities as head of the war in Afghanistan, nor the controversies that led to them.

His confirmations for that new post will begin next week, and he should be on the ground in Afghanistan by the end of next week.