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McChrystal bids farewell with a pinch of humour

world Updated: Jul 25, 2010 16:40 IST

General Stanley McChrystal tried to dismiss his firing from the US army in a lighter vein, in a heartfelt but not too heavy farewell address, saying that "I've stories on all of you".

McChrystal squeezed in a joke about the Rolling Stone magazine article, which caused his downfall and eventually cost him the job of leading the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

"I have stories on all of you, photos on many," he told his friends in the crowd of 500 guests at Fort McNair in Washington DC, as quoted by the New York Times.

"And I know a Rolling Stone reporter," he added, causing the gathering to laugh and applause.

McChrystal, 55 was fired by President Barack Obama in June for making disparaging remarks, along with other American service members, about Vice-President Joe Biden and other high-level civilian officials of the US administration.

These remarks appeared in a Rolling Stones magazine article.

"Biden? Did you say, 'Bite me?'" one aide is quoted saying in the article called "The Runaway General" McChrystal was quoted as complaining about being in an "unsellable position" in the war.

"Look, this has the potential to be an awkward or even a sad occasion," he said, while bidding farewell.

"My service did not end as I would have wished."

Defence Secretary Robert Gates made no mention of the troubling events of the past few weeks in his send-off speech at the emotional ceremony in scorching July heat.

"We bid farewell to Stan McChrystal today with pride and sadness," he said.

"Pride for the remarkable roster of achievement that he has compiled as a man and a soldier, sadness that our comrade and his prodigious talents are leaving us."

McChrystal, who leaves as a four star general, received a 17-gun salute and flag formations by the Army's Old Guard, according to the US media.

At the end of the speech the former commander said, "If I had it to do over again, I'd do some things in my career differently, but not many. I believed in people and I still believe in them. I trusted and I still trust.

I cared and I still care.

I wouldn't have had it any other way."

To the young leaders of today and tomorrow, it's a great life, he concluded.