- - Wednesday, July 24, 2019

I would like to share with you a revelation that I experienced yesterday along with another number of visitors to Ashraf 3. We were invited to dinner with about 100 of the ladies of Ashraf 3 — all ladies. They spoke in volume, to include our young master of ceremonies here. And about six or eight of them shared with us their stories, the tragedy of the loss of loved ones and their subsequent dedication to this organization.

Now, to give my comments text, I need to go back in history about 15 years … when I was a three-star commander in the Anbar Province of Iraq. One of our battalions was in the city of Ramadi and they were in some fairly heavy combat. In fact, over about a two-week period, they had lost a lieutenant, a very popular gunnery sergeant, an entire four-man sniper team, and a number of other Marines who were shot by snipers or blown up with IEDs. And I thought it was my place as their general to go see those people and sit down and talk.

I talked to them, but more importantly they talked to me. And they told us about their losses. And they told us about the lessons learned. By the time we left, I said to my chief of staff and my aide, “I came here to inspire them, but they inspired me from their sense of determination. And all they asked from me in terms of support was simply more ammunition.”

Fast-forward to last night. And I will tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that what I saw last night in terms of the ability to endure loss and yet move on through courage and determination was the same in that dining room as it was in that compound 15 years ago. The sense of unit cohesion and loyalty and dedication to each other was the same. And the sense of mission and dedicated intent to accomplish that mission was the same. I’d be the last person to step up here in front of this audience and compare 100 Iranian women to a rifle company of U.S. Marines. But I walked away from that session, ladies and gentlemen, completely blown away by their sense of purpose and their patriotism.

For the men at Ashraf 3, I would say to you that there are warriors walking amongst you. And not all of them have short hair and broad shoulders and a firm hand grip. And I am absolutely convinced that with your ladies at your side the day will come when you make your country free.

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