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Cheney talks about ties to Great Lakes Naval Station
By Lee Filas | Daily Herald Staff

Vice President Dick Cheney delivers a speech at the Naval Training Center Friday at Naval Station Great Lakes.


Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

Vice President Dick Cheney greets recruits after giving a speech at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center.


Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

Vice President Dick Cheney spoke to recruits and toured the Battle Stations 21 training facility Friday during his visit to Great Lakes Naval Training Station.


Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

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Published: 3/7/2008 2:46 PM | Updated: 3/7/2008 8:40 PM

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Vice President Dick Cheney wasted no time Friday in trying to connect with each recruit at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center.

One minute into his speech, Cheney told the 4,000 sailors in attendance that his father went through the same rigorous boot camp training at Great Lakes during World War II.

"Knowing that he had a connection here through his father to this base really gives the recruits a purpose and boosts their morale," Chief Petty Officer Jason Donlea said. "Plus, it's reassuring to the morale of troops that the upper chain of command is watching over us."

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Cheney spoke for 10 minutes inside a drill hall at the base on the importance of having men and women serve in the Navy.

He told them that each recruit should be filled with pride in their effort to become sailors and that hard work -- not luck -- is the reason America has not been hit by another terrorist strike since Sept. 11, 2001.

"I look at you with admiration, confidence and pride," Cheney said. "And I bring the great respect and good wishes of your commander in chief, President George W. Bush."

Cheney also toured the new Battle Stations 21 training facility, the grueling overnight exercise designed to prepare recruits for life as sailors.

The simulator, built by special effects companies with theme park and Hollywood experience, features 17 scenarios a sailor may experience at sea. It includes drills on mass casualties, fire fighting and the flooding of some storage spaces.

Cheney said he was impressed.

"A little while ago I had a chance to meet the men and women who spent last night going through Battle Stations," he said. "They were invited here to listen to my speech, but the admiral figured they suffered enough."

Chief Petty Officer Thomas Leistikow said hearing Cheney's speech would help reaffirm to recruits the reason they became sailors.

"Some of my recruits just got here on Feb. 20 and, with instructors in their face during boot camp, some are still questioning why they joined up," he said. "Today, they got to see the bigger purpose of why they joined the Navy."