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First Lady Michelle Obama visits Camp Pendleton

June 13, 2010 |  7:01 pm

First Lady Michelle Obama thanked 3,500 Marines and their family members Sunday afternoon for their service and sacrifice in two wars and pledged to “make sure your voices are heard in Washington and your needs are met.”

Obama said her husband’s administration plans to ensure that military families receive the support and benefits they need, including child care, educational assistance and medical counseling. She also said the administration wants to make it easier for spouses to navigate the complex system of survivors’ benefits.

A hush fell over the audience when she listed the names of five Camp Pendleton Marines killed in the last week in Afghanistan. “Our prayers and support are with these fallen Marines and their families,” she said.

Obama, who visited the Wounded Warrior Barracks and met with parents of children with severe medical needs, called Camp Pendleton’s program for families a model for the rest of the nation. She also praised civilian groups in Orange, San Diego and Riverside counties for their work helping troops and their families.

“One percent of America may be fighting our wars, but 100% of America needs to be supporting you in that fight,” she said.

Michelle2 Obama appeared to win over the audience by her familiarity with Marine terms, ending her speech with a rousing “Semper fi,” the Marine motto.

"It’s good to know that somebody is looking out for us,” said Patricia Ramirez, 19, wife of Cpl. Miguel Ramirez, 20.

Elizabeth Aguilar Smith, 27, whose husband, Lt. Andrew Smith, 29, previously deployed to Iraq and Africa, said the first lady hit every subject that was important and with “a great deal of love.”

Michelle Leonard, 41, whose husband, Lt. Col. Scott Leonard, is deployed in Afghanistan, said the speech was particularly good for younger spouses experiencing their first or second deployment. Leonard’s husband has deployed five times in six years.

“A lot of the younger wives have no family nearby,” she said. “It’s good for them to know the first lady supports them.”

-- Tony Perry at Camp Pendleton

Photos: First Lady Michelle Obama greets Marines and their families at Camp Pendleton. During a speech at the base, she said her husband's administration planned to ensure that military families get the support they need. Credit: Denis Poroy / Associated Press