Vice President Mike Pence dined with about 120 service members this afternoon at Joint Base Pearl Harbor/Hickam on an abbreviated stopover in the islands before returning to Washington from a week-long trip to Asia and Australia.
The vice president’s motorcade temporarily shut down H-1 and H-3 freeways as he headed to the base, causing gridlock that extended well beyond the highways and Pearl Harbor.
Pence shared a lunch of spaghetti, mac and cheese and other canteen staples with service members from all branches, according to a media pool report.
Pence entered the hall about 12:35 p.m. holding a tray of food and saying “Hi everybody.”
He and Adm. Harry B. Harris, the head of the Hawaii-based U.S. Pacific Command, sat at one of three long tables with service members. The vice president also visited the other tables, chatting and taking photos with the troops.
“OK, make a hole, I’ve got to come and sit at this table,” Pence said as he switched tables to sit with another group. “Thank you for your service,” he said as he sat down. “I’m awfully proud of all of you.”
Pence spoke for several minutes to the entire group. In addition to thanking the troops for their service, Pence said he also wanted to assure them “that in the days that lie ahead, in these uncertain times, people who serve here at Pacific Command will know that in your commander in chief, you have a president who is going to fight to rebuild our military, restore the arsenal of democracy, and we’re going to give our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard the resources you need to accomplish your mission for the American people.”
Pence and Harris then left for a meeting at Camp Smith, the headquarters of Pacific Command, where the pair were greeted by a Marine Corps playing the National Anthem. The vice president again greeted and spoke with assembled military personal before he and Harris went inside for their meeting.
He exited the building before 3 p.m., greeted troops and a few civilians and posed for a picture with a group of law enforcement officers before returning to his motorcade for the trip back to Joint Base Pearl Harbor/Hickam.
The 15-minute motorcade rides to and from Camp Smith again closed down roadways, jamming up afternoon traffic.
Pence arrived at Hickam and met briefly with Gov. David Ige before the vice president, his wife and two daughters boarded Air Force Two, which departed shortly afterward.
Pence is returning from his first trip to the Asia-Pacific region as vice president. He landed at Hickam Air Force Base just before midnight Sunday.
He was met with a lei greeting before he was whisked off to Kaneohe Marine Base, where he stayed overnight.
Plans for a Tuesday visit to the USS Arizona were postponed, with Pence’s office saying the vice president did not want to shut the memorial down to the public for the day.
Pence wrapped up a 10-day tour of four countries in the Asia-Pacific region where he visited the demilitarized zone in Korea and warned North Korea about its development of nuclear weapons and missile tests. He spoke in Japan to sailors aboard the USS Ronald Reagan.
He also met with business leaders in Indonesia and spent the weekend in Australia, visiting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the business community, and other government officials.
During his tour, Pence emphasized the United States’ unwavering commitment to U.S. alliances in the Asia-Pacific region and highlighted the Trump administration’s economic agenda, the White House said.
The Trump administration has a busy week ahead with Trump set to make an announcement on his tax reform plan Wednesday and the deadline to fund the government coming at the end of the week.
The Associated Press and media pool reports contributed to this story.