President Trump used a brief visit to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to tout Alaska's role in the nation's defense Thursday, thanking service members during a refueling stop on his way back from a diplomatic trip to Vietnam.

The president spoke for about 20 minutes on base, after returning from diplomatic talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

"I wanted to stop here and share my gratitude to every soldier, airman, Marine, Coast Guardsman, and National Guardsman who serves in the land of the midnight sun – what a beautiful term it is, too," Trump said as he delivered an upbeat message.

He also discussed his family's connection to the 49th state, as reported by the Anchorage Daily News.

"My grandfather was up in Alaska for a long time, he was looking for gold, he was searching for gold, he didn't find it, but, he opened little hotels for those looking for gold, and it worked out," Trump said.

Strengthening the military was a big focus of the president's speech. He also mentioned what he says will be 54 new F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter jets that are expected to arrive at Eielson Air Force Base next year.

"I say 'How do you like the F-35?' 'We love it, sir.' 'How good is it compared to the enemy aircraft?' 'Well sir, you can't see it.'" Trump said, speaking in front of a JBER-based F-22 Raptor stealth fighter. "I said 'Explain that to me.' 'It's stealth. It's the stealthiest plane in the world by far.'"

Fort Greely is also receiving 20 additional ballistic-missile interceptors, amid a wave of military construction across the state this year.

"America does not seek conflict," Trump said. "But if we are forced to defend ourselves we will fight, and we will win in an overwhelming fashion, that's where we are."

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