CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait --
In a rare triple-header, Honorary Marine Chuck Norris, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert Magnus and Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration Lt. Gen. James F. Amos visited Marines and sailors of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) here for a quick visit and an evening meal.
The trio of dignitaries and their attendant entourages flew into nearby Udairi Army Air Field on a pair of UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters and were met by the 22nd MEU(SOC) commanding officer, Col. Doug Stilwell.
"We very much appreciate military and civilian leaders of this stature taking the time to visit and show our Marines and sailors that they care about what we are doing,"said Stilwell.
After a short bus ride to one of the dining facilities at Camp Buehring and a brief stop outside to sign autographs and pose for pictures with the troops, Norris, Magnus and Amos went into a special dining room to enjoy a meal with a select group of Marines.
Before getting in the buffet line, each of them took the time to circle the room and talk to the Marines. Magnus'message was simple and to the point.
"He shook everybody's hand and said'Hey, thank you for being a United States Marine.' I thought that was pretty cool," said Cpl. Hollis Versyp, an administrative clerk with the MEU's Command Element.
Versyp was glad to have the chance to see each of the visitors.
"I've been a fan of Chuck Norris for a long time,"said the Abilene, Texas, native.
Versyp said he grew up watching Chuck Norris movies with his father and getting to meet Norris brought back those happy memories.
"It reminds me of (my father) and reminds me of home,"he said.
After the meal, Norris, Magnus and Amos took turns talking to the Marines.
Versyp said that Magnus talked about his experiences during the Vietnam War era, reflecting that the troops didn't get the kind of public support they get today.
Norris, who said he lost a brother in the Vietnam War, agrees that there is a big difference in how service members are treated today.
He added that ensuring troops get strong public support is one of his primary reasons for visiting troops near the front lines.
"I just want the troops to know that they're not forgotten,"said Norris. "I would just like to get the opportunity to meet as many of the troops here as I can, to let them know that."
While the dignitaries and Marines were finishing their meal and taking photos, in the rest of the dining facility, word had leaked out;"Chuck Norris is here."
Nearly every Marine, sailor, and soldier in the dining facility was lined up against the walls, waiting and hoping for the chance to meet the martial arts legend.
"Chuck is the man,"said Cpl. Kyle Mullinax, an operations clerk with the MEU's Command Element, who was the first person in line. "If he has something to autograph, I'm going to take that. If not, I'm going to have him sign a dollar, because that's all I've got."
A short time later, Norris came out of the back dining room and was greeted by a resounding cheer. He went down the line shaking hands, posing for photos and handing out autographed pictures.
"The military is what helped me grow up,"said Norris. "The military has been close to my heart for years."
After Norris, Magnus and Amos finished talking to Marines and posing for photos they boarded the bus and headed back to the airfield to continue with their visits with deployed troops.
The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) consists of its Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment; Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (Reinforced); Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22; and its Command Element. Led by Col. Doug Stilwell, the 22nd MEU(SOC) is in Kuwait conducting sustainment training as part of a scheduled deployment.