FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska (CNN) – Sarah Palin left the campaign trail and stepped back into her role as Alaska governor on Thursday when she spoke at a ceremony honoring 4,000 Alaska-based troops who will deploy from Fort Wainwright to Iraq in the coming weeks.
Standing in formation among members of the 1st Stryker Brigade’s 25th Infantry Division was Palin’s eldest son, Track, who went unmentioned by the governor in her brief remarks. Palin had agreed to speak at the deployment ceremony several months ago, before she was tapped as John McCain’s running mate.
Though the speech wasn’t a political event – press credentials were issued by the military base - that didn’t stop dozens of national reporters and photographers from descending on this military base in Fairbanks, home to between nearly 12,000 soldiers and their families.
“As you depart today,” Palin told the infantrymen, “don’t mind us - your parents, your friends, your family - if we allow for a few tears, or if we hold you just a little close once more before you’re gone. Because were going to miss you. We can’t help it. We are going to miss you.”
Palin said victory in Iraq is “within sight.”
“You and others like you will be there to see the mission through,” she said. “You will be there to win. You will see victory.
Track Palin signed up to join the army on Sept. 11, 2007. During his 12-month deployment, Palin’s unit will provide protection to reconstruction teams participating in the rebuilding of the country, according to Major Chris Hyde, the public affairs officer for the brigade.
Hyde, who called Track Palin “a low profile individual,” said he had not heard any securty concerns about having the son of a prominent political figure in the brigade.
“The decision to put him in that role was made before Gov. Palin was picked by McCain,” he said. “If anything comes down from headquarters we will comply, but I wouldn't even want to speculate. I wouldn’t say yes or no. That’s just my opinion. We will do well with Track Palin whether he's there or he's not.”