2016 Men of the Year: America's Troops

U.S. Navy Seabees fire M-4 and M-16A2 rifles during weapons qualification training near Camp Mike Spann, Afghanistan
U.S. Navy Seabees fire M-4 and M-16A2 rifles during weapons qualification training near Camp Mike Spann, Afghanistan / AP

The true men of the year, as always, are the members of the United States armed forces, the brave men and women protecting America's interests and defending its allies at home and abroad.

These brave soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines are deployed abroad fighting terrorism, enforcing America's alliances, and planting fear in the hearts of our enemies and any potential adversary who dares to test the United States.

Our armed forces are delivering defeat to the Islamic State, helping local forces root out the terrorist group that has ransacked the Middle East and attacked the West from its strongholds of Mosul and Raqqa. Thousands of American troops continue to take the fight to the Taliban, fifteen years after the war in Afghanistan first began.

These individuals give us the ability to sleep soundly at night.

Perhaps Retired Marine Gen. John Kelly put it best in November 2010, four days after his son, himself a Marine, died in Afghanistan's Helmand Province while fighting the Taliban.

"Our men and women in uniform today are as good as any other in our history," Kelly said in St. Louis on Veterans Day six years ago. "As good as what their heroic, under-appreciated, and largely abandoned fathers and uncles were in Vietnam War, and their grandfathers were in Korea and World War II. They have the same steel in their backs, ladies and gentlemen, and they are making their own mark in our history in places like Iraq and Afghanistan."

"None of them have ever asked what their country could do for them, but always and with their lives have asked what they can do for America," Kelly said. "While some might think we have produced yet another generation of materialistic, consumerist and self-absorbed young people, those who serve today and are about to serve have broken the mold and stepped out as real men, and real women, who are already making their own way in life while protecting ours."

"They know the real strength of a platoon, a battalion, or a country that is not worshiping at the altar of diversity, but in a melting pot that stitches and strengthens by a sense of shared history, values, customs, hopes and dreams all of which unify a people making them stronger," he said.

Published under: Men of the Year