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Southeast Missouri resident will take part in Bush's inauguration festivities

Sunday, January 16, 2005

(Photo)
Bradley Armstrong
OCEANA, Va. - Next Thursday, many Americans will sit at home in front of their television sets to watch President George W. Bush's inauguration.

A New Madrid native, however, will have the chance of a lifetime and witness the action in Washington, D.C.

AOAN (Airman, Aviation Ordnanceman Striker) Bradley Armstrong will arrive in the nation's capital Tuesday to take part in inauguration week ceremonies. "I am one of the members of my squad who was selected to go to the inauguration," Armstrong said during a phone interview, while serving in Oceana.

Armstrong said he is quite excited to be going to D.C., although he's not quite sure if he will have any duties. "I'll probably just stand there and look good in my uniform for the President," he said.

Armstrong admitted he is anxiously awaiting his trip to the capital. "It's my first time going to Washington D.C.," he said. "I'm really looking forward to it.

In addition to his hopes to meet President Bush, there are a few sites that Armstrong said wants to visit. "I'd like to see the Vietnam Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers," he said, although he added that he would like to take in as many sites as possible.

Armstrong said he isn't only participating in inauguration week activities for himself, but also for the people back home. "I'm going to represent my family," he said, adding that he would also represent Sikeston while in Washington D.C.

A 2003 graduate of New Madrid County Central High School, Armstrong is the son of Glenda and Robert Schweizer and Leary and Cindy Armstrong of Sikeston. He has been active in the U.S. Navy for one and a half years.

Individual accomplishments of Armstrong aided him in being chosen to take part in the inauguration. "It was based on my service record," he noted.

Armstrong just returned from a cruise to the Persian Gulf and participated in protecting the ground troops in Fallujah. "I was also awarded a global war on terrorism medal," he said, explaining he medal is awarded based on his bearing as a U.S. sailor.

Summer Pulse 2004 is another program that Armstrong has participated in. Occurring from June to August, this program was the first operational implementation of the Fleet Response Plan.

"It's a plan by the President," Armstrong explained. "At any time in a major crisis, he can send seven carrier strike forces out at once."

Summer Pulse 2004 was the Navy's largest deployment evolution. It sought to not only maximize training, manning and combat readiness, but also to prove to coalition allies and enemy forces that the U.S. Navy can provide a powerful and credible presence anywhere at any time.

Armstrong completed boot camp at Great Lakes, Ill., A-School in Jacksonville, Fla., and received additional training in Fallon, Nev.

Currently, he is attached to the squadron wing VF103 (the Jolly Rogers) based in Oceana. This squadron wing is connected to the JFK aircraft carrier.

The JFK is home to more than 5,000 sailors. It has a daily newspaper, radio and television stations, as well as a fire department, library, hospital, two general stores, a barber shop and a post office, with its own zip code.

Armstrong said he will be reassigned to a squadron in Japan in May. However, he has enjoyed his time in his current squad.

"I'm glad I was over in Iraq helping to support the ground troops," he commented. "I'm glad I could protect them and I'm looking forward to continue to serve."