Governor Jack Markell of Delaware is in Afghanistan to meet with members of the military as part of The Pentagon’s Governors Delegation Program.
Markell said it’s a trip he had wanted to take since taking office in January, 2009. This week, the opportunity arrived as he joined Connecticut Governor Dannel Melloy.
Prior to going overseas, Markell visited with wounded soldiers at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center near Washington. He also met with Defense Secretary Leon Panneta and received briefings at the Pentagon earlier this week from senior defense officials.
During the first overseas stop in Kuwait, Markell had the opportunity to have dinner with two servicemen from Kent County. The governors then visited Bagram Air Base and the military hospital there. Markell said he was especially moved by encountering a soldier who had lost both of his legs just hours earlier.
“To see the level of professionalism and patriotism that they bring to their responsibilities is absolutely inspiring,” Markell said during a telephone conference call with reporters from the Kabul area. “To be here, to hear their stories, to hear about their separation from their families for months and months or longer on end, yet to see the level of dedication they bring to their job every day.”
“These are very difficult jobs and the range of responsibilities is staggering,” the Governor added. He also said morale among the members of the military he has met so far appears to be high. “These folks feel likely they’re part of a highly-trained, very effective team. And, they have each other’s back,” Markell said.
Markell will meet with more soldiers in Afghanistan Thursday. He is expected to return to Delaware the following day.