Remarks by Ambassador Eisenberg at the Presentation of the Legion of Merit

Presentation of the Legion of Merit to Lieutenant General Luca Goretti, Italian Air Force, and Rear Admiral Valter Zappellini, Italian Navy

September 25, 2018

(As prepared for delivery)

Good morning everyone. General Graziano, Admiral Girardelli, General Vecciarelli, Admirals, Generals, and distinguished guests, welcome…  I am very pleased and honored to have you all in the historic “Red Room” here at the United States Embassy Rome.  Thank you for taking the time out of your busy lives to attend today’s ceremony in honor of LtGen Goretti and Rear Admiral Zappellini.

It has been almost a year since I arrived in Rome. Over the past year I have had the distinct pleasure to travel throughout Italy to observe her beauty and experience her hospitality. Perhaps most importantly for my current role as Ambassador, my travels have allowed me to see up close the shared outlook of our two nations, which seeks to ensure not just the freedom and security of Italian and American citizens, but freedom and stability throughout the world.

The friendship and cooperation between Italy and the United States remains very strong, and is based on shared values. Cooperation on defense is a pillar of our bilateral relationship, and an important key to ensuring the security of our nations and the world. A key component of this cooperation is the work done by defense attaches in Rome and Washington. We are here today to recognize some of this work, done by the two outstanding officers seated here in the front row.

As you may read in the program, the Legion of Merit is an award given for exceptionally meritorious conduct. All it takes is a brief look at the careers and accomplishments of General Goretti and Rear Admiral Zappellini to understand that they are true exemplars of this standard.

General Goretti, the United States especially appreciates your significant efforts in advocacy of Italy’s role in Operation RESOLUTE SUPPORT. The fact that Italy is now among the largest troop contributing nations to that important operation is in large part due to your efforts. Your hard work also ensured solid bilateral cooperation for the F-35 program; thanks in large part to your efforts, the first F-35A produced outside the United Stated rolled off the line at Cameri in December, 2015.

Rear Admiral Zappellini, you were in Washington a few years before General Goretti, and your work on the F-35B program goes back to 2013, and proved critical to this year’s delivery of the first F-35B for the Italian Navy. What’s more, you served admirably as Dean of the Corps of Naval Attaches in Washington. I can think of no better way for an Italian Officer to “fare bella figura” than to serve in a leadership role among his fellow attaches in a foreign country. Well done!

Gentlemen, I thank you both for your unwavering service to your country as you executed your important diplomatic duties in Washington. General Goretti, I would ask you now sir to join me and my Defense Attache as we recognize you for your outstanding achievements.