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Vice President Dick Cheney pins the Exceptional Service Award on the collar of Tracy McVay, wife of Air Force Capt. Michael McVay, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Thursday afternoon. She received the award for rescuing an airman who was swimming at Tarague Beach on Jan. 27.
Vice President Dick Cheney pins the Exceptional Service Award on the collar of Tracy McVay, wife of Air Force Capt. Michael McVay, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Thursday afternoon. She received the award for rescuing an airman who was swimming at Tarague Beach on Jan. 27. (Frank Whitman / Special to S&S)
Vice President Dick Cheney pins the Exceptional Service Award on the collar of Tracy McVay, wife of Air Force Capt. Michael McVay, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Thursday afternoon. She received the award for rescuing an airman who was swimming at Tarague Beach on Jan. 27.
Vice President Dick Cheney pins the Exceptional Service Award on the collar of Tracy McVay, wife of Air Force Capt. Michael McVay, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Thursday afternoon. She received the award for rescuing an airman who was swimming at Tarague Beach on Jan. 27. (Frank Whitman / Special to S&S)
Servicemembers applaud at the end of Vice President Dick Cheney’s speech at Andersen Air Force Base.
Servicemembers applaud at the end of Vice President Dick Cheney’s speech at Andersen Air Force Base. (Frank Whitman / Special to S&S)

Vice President Dick Cheney presented awards to two Andersen Air Force Base residents for saving the lives of two airmen off the base’s Tarague Beach on Jan. 27.

Cheney made the presentations during an hourlong stopover on Guam to address about 2,000 members of the Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard, as well as local officials.

He was traveling from Japan to Australia on a trip to meet with the heads of state of the two nations.

After a 15-minute speech, Cheney presented the Airman’s Medal — the Air Force’s highest noncombat award — to Lt. Col. Christopher Greiman, commander of the 36th Comptroller Squadron. He awarded the Exceptional Service Award to Tracy McVay, the wife of Capt. Michael McVay.

The two were at Tarague in January — Greiman with his son, taking part in a Cub Scout beach cleanup; McVay with other people — when they noticed a group of five swimmers in trouble near the reef.

Two of the swimmers made it to shore on their own. Greiman and McVay rescued two of the remaining swimmers. The fifth, Airman 1st Class Michael McDonald, was not found and has been declared dead.

On his arrival, Cheney was greeted on the tarmac by Brigadier Gen. Douglas Owens, 36th Wing commander. The vice president then was taken to the base’s Air Expeditionary Force Forward Operating Location Hangar 1, where he met briefly with Rear Adm. Joe Leidig, Commander Naval Forces Marianas; Gov. Felix Camacho and U.S. Delegate Madeleine Bordallo.

During his speech, Cheney recognized the forces stationed at Naval Base Guam and Andersen.

The Andersen motto “is ‘Prepared to Prevail,’ ” he said. “And that’s what we need as much as ever.”

He noted Guam’s strategic importance, role in national defense — and distance between the island and Washington, D.C. “And yet I am on American soil,” Cheney said.

The vice president also thanked former and current servicemembers who are residents of Guam.

While reiterating the Bush administration’s policy toward Iraq, he was interrupted by applause when he said, “The American people do not and will not support a policy of retreat.”

Before presenting the awards to Greiman and McVay, Cheney finished his speech by expressing gratitude to the assembled servicemembers. “You serve in a time of great need,” he said. “We want you to know that … the nation is grateful to each and every one of you.”

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