For the President in Australia’s Rough Northern Territory, Crocodile Insurance and a World War II Remembrance

Nov 17, 2011 3:28am

DARWIN, AUSTRALIA – “Aussie Aussie Aussie!” President Obama yelled in a Royal Australian Air Force hangar containing 1,650 Australian troops.

“Oi Oi Oi!” they yelled back.

President Obama spent much of his Thursday solemnly honoring the service of U.S. and Australian troops and Marines, but he took a note while addressing troops — 55 U.S. Marines were also present in the hangar — to try out that cheer, and to mention “the most unique gift I’ve ever received.”

Paul Henderson, the chief minister of the Northern Territory today presented President Obama with crocodile insurance.

Henderson told Sky TV that “we’ve got the crocodile insurance ready to go for Michelle and the kids — 50 grand if the president does get taken. We don’t think that’s going to happen, but it should provide a little bit of reassurance.”

Crocodiles are prevalent in the region.

President Obama said that the gift of the insurance “relieved” First Lady Michelle Obama.

“I have to admit when we reformed health care in America, crocodile insurance is one thing we left out,” the president quipped.

The president came here to Darwin to thank the Australian military for hosting the new U.S. military presence here. A small liaison team of U.S. Marines is already here. By 2012, a company-sized U.S. Marine presence — between 200 and 250 Marines — will call Darwin home, and that force will ramp up to 2,500 in the coming years.

The president and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard earlier visited a memorial for the USS Peary, a U.S. warship bombed by the Japanese on February 19, 1942 during World War II. Ninety-one crewmen were killed.

In a sign of the times, the last U.S. sailor who survived the attack, Dallis Widick, died in September 2008. Widick was one of 31 sailors who survived. His dying wish was for his ashes to be committed to sea here in Darwin over the site of the wreck of the USS Peary.

The president today also met with four local survivors of the bombing.

-Jake Tapper

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