Obamas pay Christmas visit to Marines in Hawaii

 

McClatchy Washington Bureau

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visited troops Wednesday at Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay, praising them  for their "incredible dedication."

Here's a report from the press pool with the Obamas in Hawaii:

President Obama spoke to about 580 troops and their families assembled around the tables and booths of Anderson Hall, a dining facility at Marine Corps Base Hawaii known informally as "Chow Hall." Most of the troops are Marines, but the event was open to members of the Army, Navy and Air Force as well. Anybody who is active duty service in Hawaii was allowed to attend. The troops ate Christmas dinner earlier in the afternoon and were just clearing their trays before Obama arrived.

Obama, with wife Michelle standing at his side, spoke at about 4:30 p.m. local from a small square stage with red carpet that's raised about one foot off the ground. The wall behind him was covered with wallpaper showing historical Marine Corps and Navy photographs and memorabilia.

The president, who held a piece of paper with notes, wore a blue short sleeved shirt and dark khaki pants, while the first lady wore a black skirt and sleeveless black and white top.

Obama said that he knows "a lot of our friends and comrades" are raising their families here while others are serving in Afghanistan and other places. Obama said he called 10 service members who were in Afghanistan, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Obama said, "It was just a sampling of the incredible sacrifice a that all of you and your families make every single day. Michelle and I know that we would not enjoy the freedoms we do if it weren't for the incredible dedication and professionalism and work that you do. The least we can do is just let you all know we're grateful to you."

Obama added, "We hope that the mess has done right by you and that the food is pretty good."

Obama singled out several regiments, battalions and patrol units by name and those in attendance hooted and cheered when their group was called.

"Thank you so much for your great work," Obama said.


Obama spoke for about three minutes. Then he grabbed Michelle's hand and walked off stage and into a private room behind the stage to take pictures and meet some of the service members.


He decided to take individual pictures with all of the roughly 580 service members and their families. They have been taking pictures for the past hour and we expect them to continue for at least another 20 minutes

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