VP Biden Welcomes Home Son's National Guard Brigade, Thanks Troops for Service

Capt. Beau Biden returns from a year-long deployment to Iraq.

ByABC News
September 29, 2009, 6:27 PM

Sept. 30, 2009— -- Last October, in the thick of the presidential campaign, Sen. Joe Biden delivered emotional remarks at a deployment ceremony for the Delaware National Guard.

Biden's presence there was neither surprising nor unusual. He attended many similar ceremonies in Delaware in his more than three decades of public service.

But the event was emotional for the vice presidential candidate because deploying to Iraq with the Delaware Army National Guard's 261st Signal Brigade was his oldest son, Beau, a military lawyer and the state's attorney general.

Biden avoided politics that day and said that he spoke as a father who got "sage advice" from his son.

"I have come here many times before as a Delawarean, as a United States senator," Biden said to the 115 troops on the mall in front of the state capitol in Dover. "But today, I come as you prepare to deploy, as a father, a father who got some sage advice from his son this morning: 'Dad, keep it short, we're in formation.'"

"I always listen to my general," he added.

Today, Biden marked the conclusion of his son's deployment overseas when he spoke at the homecoming ceremony for the 261st Signal Brigade at the state capitol.

"I can speak in behalf of the National Guard family assembled here when I say, as a Delawarean, I stand here steeped in pride; as an American, I am awed by the quality and the significance of your service; and as a parent, as a father, I can't tell you the feeling I have in welcoming home a son," the vice president said.

Beau Biden, a captain in the 261st Signal Brigade, has been in Iraq for nearly a year working as a military lawyer. He came back briefly from Iraq and took an assignment at the Pentagon in order to see his father's swearing-in as vice president in January.

The vice president saw his son while on a short visit to Iraq earlier this month and on two other visits there this year. Biden joked that his trips were not just about seeing this unit from his home state and his son.

"I've found myself feeling somewhat guilty going back to Iraq as often as I did. I want you to know, for the press here, I was not doing it just to go see this unit. The president asked me to oversee Iraqi policy once we were elected," Biden said.

On a more serious note, Biden said he "felt sort of guilty" that he was able to see his son and his unit while they were serving.

"I felt sort of guilty that you weren't getting to see what I got to see. I got to see our beloved son three times. You were home," he said. "I got to see the respect that was afforded your sons and daughters, your husbands and wives in a way that if you got to see it, it would only expand the pride you already feel."

Lt. Col. Len Gratteri, public information officer for the Delaware National Guard, had said the homecoming ceremony would be "special" because it marked the first time a vice president has attended such an event in the state.

Gratteri said more than 1,500 people were expected to attend the ceremony.

It was not planned as a policy address from the vice president, an administration official said.

"He has two roles -- as vice president and as a father. In his capacity as vice president, he's proud and appreciates the service that these returning soldiers gave their country," an official said. "And as a father, he's eminently proud and relieved like every father, mother, sister, brother, husband, wife" with a loved one serving overseas.

Both Biden and his wife Jill have spoken publicly about what it means to have a loved one overseas and both have said they share a connection with other military families across the nation.