the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Statement by the President on the death of General John M. Shalikashvhili

With the passing of General John M. Shalikashvili, the United States has lost a genuine soldier-statesman whose extraordinary life represented the promise of America and the limitless possibilities that are open to those who choose to serve it.  From his arrival in the United States as a 16-year old Polish immigrant after the Second World War, to a young man who learned English from John Wayne movies, to his rise to the highest ranks of our military, Shali’s life was an “only in America” story.  By any measure, he made our country a safer and better place.

As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he strengthened our alliances in Europe and in Asia, forged closer defense ties with Russia, and championed the Partnership for Peace with the former Soviet states.  At the same time, he oversaw successful military operations in Bosnia and Haiti, and elsewhere.  Most of all, he fought tirelessly to improve the quality of life for our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen and their families who serve to keep us safe.

Michelle and I extend our heartfelt condolences to General Shalikashvili’s wife Joan and their son Brant.