Lawmakers visit Landstuhl before returning to States
January 30, 2007
LANDSTUHL, Germany — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a congressional delegation stopped at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center on Monday to visit wounded troops following a three-day trip to Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Pelosi, D-Calif., and the other House members toured the Army hospital before taking off from Ramstein Air Base and returning to the U.S.
Pelosi, an outspoken critic of the Iraq war and President Bush’s plan to boost the number of forces in Iraq, spent nearly an hour at the hospital’s intensive care unit, meeting with wounded servicemembers.
As she walked the hospital hallways, she stopped and posed for photos with American soldiers and airmen.
“Thank you for your service to your country,” she told one servicemember before agreeing to a photo. “We’re so proud of you.”
It was her first visit to the hospital, which has treated 37,000 patients from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The delegation’s trip came as Congress and the White House battle over a boost of U.S. forces in Iraq. President Bush is sending 21,500 more troops to the country, while Democrats and some Republicans have argued against the increase.
Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa.; Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo.; Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif.; Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas; Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y.; and Rep. David Hobson, R-Ohio, accompanied Pelosi on the fact-finding trip.
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., made a similar trip to Landstuhl earlier this month before officially announcing she would run for president.
The delegation on Monday allowed photographers to follow the tour, but its members declined to answer any questions.
Murtha, a retired Marine colonel and Vietnam veteran, has urged the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.
While other House members greeted patients in the intensive care unit and handed out U.S. flags, Murtha spoke at length to Gen. David McKiernan, commander of U.S. Army Europe, in the hallway.
Minutes later, he chatted with Pfc. Keali Lanning, who injured his hand in a grenade attack in Iraq. As Lanning walked down the hallway, Murtha asked, “What happened to you?”
Lanning told Murtha about the attack and how he initially refused medical treatment so that other soldiers could get care first.
“You’re tougher than hell,” Murtha told him. “We’re proud of you.”
Lanning, 19, admitted he didn’t know who Murtha was at first.
“That was cool,” he said afterward. “You don’t get to meet somebody like that every day.”