President Bush, who visited troops in Iraq on Thanksgiving after the U.S. invasion in 2003, called several servicemen and women Thursday to extend best wishes and say it was “the least I can do.”
Three of those receiving holiday greetings are in the Army, two are Marines, three are in the Air Force, two serve in the Coast Guard and two in the Navy. The troops called are serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and aboard ship, said White House press secretary Dana Perino.
Among those who spoke with the president:
- Army Sgt. 1st Class Amy Adams in Iraq, who tracks casualties for six brigades.
- Army Staff Sgt. William Cannon in Iraq, who supervises howitzer training.
- Army Sgt. Frank Gervascio in Iraq, in charge of emergency and routine care in his battalion’s aid station.
- Marine Sgt. Thomas Kelley in Iraq, who ensures that the gear is ready for tactical movement.
- Navy Seaman William Jamieson II, on the USS Vicksburg deployed to the Arabian Gulf/North Arabia Sea, and responsible for identification of aircraft flying in range of coalition warships.
- Air Force Tech. Sgt. Cimarron Reeves in Iraq, who does post-blast analysis that is vital to counter Improvised Explosive Devices.
- Air Force Airman 1st Class Chris Steven Ericksen in Afghanistan, who issues fuel to military aircraft.
“He called to wish the members of the military and their families and the troops that they are serving with a happy Thanksgiving. He said, ’I can’t tell you how impressed I am by the courage and compassion of our troops.’ He thanked them for their service,” Perino said.
“He said how proud he is of them.”
‘The least I can do’
The president asked for God’s blessings on the members of the military, Perino said. He said he was thankful to be commander in chief of the finest military ever assembled and told them, “calling you is the least I can do because I admire the military so much.”
The president was celebrating the holiday at Camp David with his wife, Laura, and their twin daughters, who have a birthday this weekend. Also present were daughter Jenna’s husband-to-be Henry Hager, some of the president’s brothers and sisters with their families, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Bush, who plans to return to Washington Saturday, had no public schedule for the stay at Camp David in the Catoctin Mountains of western Maryland.
“He likes to keep it quiet when he’s away up there, and he likes spending time with family,” said deputy press secretary Tony Fratto, who added that the president didn’t have much time to do that in his regular schedule.
The Thanksgiving dinner menu included jellied cranberry molds, whipped sweet potato souffle and pumpkin mousse trifle.