Vice President Mike Pence speaks to Citadel Cadets

By Patrick Phillips, Ann McGill, and Lillian Donahue|February 13, 2020 at 4:04 PM EST - Updated February 14 at 6:45 AM

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Vice President Mike Pence praised Citadel Cadets at a speech Thursday afternoon at the military college.

Pence began his remarks with mention of the death of 6-year-old Faye Swetlik. The child disappeared from her Cayce home on Monday afternoon. On Thursday afternoon, authorities confirmed they found Swetlik’s body along with the body of a male.

“But I would just urge everyone in South Carolina: Hug your children today,” he said. “And keep this little girl and her family and her community in your prayers.”

Pence said he spoke with South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and pledged the full resources of the federal government to aid in the investigation into her death.

During his speech at The Citadel, Pence addressed more than 2000 cadets.

Pence praised the military for their sacrifices and mentioned The Citadel’s role in helping shape military heroes. He challenged the Cadets to be leaders.

“More than anything else, this nation is in need of men and women who will step forward and lead,” he said. “But remember as you lead: Make sure that you’re working every day to develop the inner man and inner woman to be the kind of leader that people will follow. In a word, be men and women of integrity. People follow leaders they trust.”

He touched on administration accomplishments like the economy and military defense spending. He even surprised a couple cadets recognizing them for their accomplishments.

Pence also talked about leadership and thanked the students that will be going into the Armed Forces.

He landed in Air Force Two shortly after 3 p.m. The event is being held from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 13 at the Holiday Alumni Center at The Citadel.

Pence will be guest of honor at the 9th annual Patriot Dinner where he will receive the Nathan Hale Patriot Award.

The Patriot Dinner honors a national, state, or local official who embodies the selfless leadership of Nathan Hale. Hale was an American soldier and spy for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. He was captured by the British and executed on Sept. 22, 1776 at age 21. Hale is remembered for his famous quote, “My only regret is that I have but one life to give for my country.”

The Citadel Republican Society hosts the dinner, which supports cadets of The Citadel Republican Society and their annual four-day trip to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. Every year since 2008, the Citadel has sent the single largest school delegation to the conference, which gathers over 13,000 conservatives from across the country, the event’s website states.

Pence’s visit will likely have an impact on the afternoon commute as roadways will be closed as Pence travels from the base to The Citadel.

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