San Antonio, Texas Remarks and an Informal Exchange With Reporters Alter Visiting the Five Men Injured During the Rescue Attempt for American Hostages in Iran.
THE PRESIDENT. I just had the high privilege and honor of visiting five brave men—Americans who were willing to offer their lives for the freedom of their fellow Americans who are being held hostage in Iran: Airman Bill Tootle, Staff Sergeant Joseph Beyers, Lieutenant Jeffrey Harrison, Major Leslie Petty, Major James Schafer.
Every one of these men expressed to me immediately their gratitude for a chance to participate in this rescue operation and their immediate offer to continue in every possible way, including a repetition of the offer of their lives, to secure the safety and the freedom of the hostages. All of them are doing well. Two of them are seriously injured, but recovering satisfactorily from their burns. And our Nation owes to them a great debt of gratitude and appreciation and respect and admiration for their willingness to sacrifice in the highest call of their chosen profession.
This has been a long and difficult time for our Nation. But we are reinspired and rededicated to freedom and the responsibilities of a free nation in a democracy by the self-sacrificial and heroic attitude of these men.
I am overwhelmed with emotion when I look at and speak to these men. And I'm filled with a sense of abhorrence and horror at the actions of Iranian officials in recent days, who violated all principles of humanity and decency by exhibiting the bodies of the fellow warriors of these brave men in Iran. They did not and could not bring dishonor on those who fell in the performance of their duty. They only brought dishonor on themselves, and they indicated by this inhumane act of displaying these bodies the kind of people with whom we have been dealing to try to secure the freedom of our fellow Americans.
This is a proud and great nation. We want peace with all. We believe in treating others with respect and with good will and with decency, but with strength. And we are as determined and as deeply committed now as we have ever been to secure the freedom of our fellow Americans.
Thank you very much for letting me appear before you to express the feelings and the appreciation of a grateful nation to the officers and men whom I have just had the honor to visit.
Thank you very much.
REPORTER. Mr. President, how badly does Secretary Vance's resignation hurt you and also hurt the efforts to free the hostages?
THE PRESIDENT. Secretary Vance is a fine and dedicated man who has served me and served this Nation well. He leaves his post with a series of great accomplishments behind him, with an offer to help me in any way I ask him in the future, and with my gratitude and friendship intact. His departure did not have any adverse effect at all on the efforts to rescue the American hostages.
Q. Excuse me, sir, I was asking about the future.
THE PRESIDENT. Nor will it have any impact on the future.
Q. Do you have any idea of the whereabouts now of the hostages or when the bodies will be returned to the United States?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't know when the bodies will be returned. What we know about the whereabouts of the hostages, I think, would best not be discussed.
Q. What can we do next, sir? What can we do in Iran?
THE PRESIDENT. I can't say.
Q. So, that means that you do know?
THE PRESIDENT. Thank you very much.
Note: The President spoke at 2:25 p.m. outside the Brooks Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, after visiting Staff Sergeant Beyers, Lieutenant Harrison, and Majors Petty and Schafer. While at the Center, the President also met with members of Sergeant Beyers' and Major Petty's families.
Earlier, the President had visited Airman Tootle in Wilford Hall of the U.S. Air Force Medical Center at Lackland Air Force Base.
Jimmy Carter, San Antonio, Texas Remarks and an Informal Exchange With Reporters Alter Visiting the Five Men Injured During the Rescue Attempt for American Hostages in Iran. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/249817