Our troops serving in harm’s way overseas have an awesome responsibility. They are true American heroes, and we pray for them everyday.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Iraq and Kuwait, and it was a great honor to meet with the Oklahoma troops who are serving on the frontlines of the war on terrorism.

The U.S. Department of Defense and the State Department invited me to participate in a day-long tour of the Iraq region to get a firsthand look at conditions where Oklahomans are serving. Colorado Gov. Bill Owens also joined me on the tour.

My trip began with classified briefings at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Before landing in Iraq, I had dinner with airmen at Camp Arifijhan in Kuwait.

In Iraq, I met with about 200 Oklahoma troops, including members of the Oklahoma National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 158th Field Artillery Unit, which is stationed at Camp Victory in Baghdad. This is Oklahoma’s only National Guard unit currently stationed in Iraq, where the 158th is helping train Iraqi security forces.

In Ramadi, I witnessed a demonstration of equipment used to clear roadways of potential explosive devices as well as a “checkpoint” demonstration by Iraqi security forces.

I was impressed to see so many Oklahomans playing key roles. Among the military officials I met was Maj. Gen. Timothy Donovan, who is chief of staff to Gen. George Casey, commander of multinational forces in Iraq. I was proud to learn that he is a University of Oklahoma graduate – one of hundreds of troops with Oklahoma ties.

I am pleased to report that the troops I visited with were in very good spirits. They appreciate the importance of their mission, and they’re doing a great job.  That’s the Oklahoma way – we do things right, and we get things done.

I am grateful for the dedicated service of these brave Oklahomans. We pray for their safe return and the success of their mission.

If you have questions or comments, please write me at the Office of the Governor, Room 212, Oklahoma City OK 73105 or visit the “Contact the Governor” section of my website, www.gov.ok.gov.

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