President Bush Declares "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq

On May 1, 2003, Bush became the first sitting President to make an arrested landing in a fixed-wing aircraft on an aircraft carrier when he arrived at the USS Abraham Lincoln in a Lockheed S-3 Viking, dubbed Navy One, as the carrier returned from combat operations in the Persian Gulf . He posed for photographs with pilots and members of the ship's crew while wearing a flight suit. A few hours later, he gave a speech announcing the end of major combat operations in the Iraq War. Clearly visible in the background was a banner stating "Mission Accomplished."

Many people who watched the event on television and saw the banner displayed on the ship drew the conclusion that the banner declared that the U.S. mission in Iraq had been completed.

"In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."”

— George W. Bush

Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.

In this battle, we have fought for the cause of liberty, and for the peace of the world. Our nation and our coalition are proud of this accomplishment — yet it is you, the members of the United States military, who achieved it. Your courage — your willingness to face danger for your country and for each other — made this day possible. Because of you, our nation is more secure. Because of you, the tyrant has fallen, and Iraq is free.”

— George W. Bush