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The US Military Says Farewell to President Bush

The President-elect's surprise visit to a Mess Hall on Christmas Day

Just received this photo and story of President-elect Barack Obama's visit to Anderson Mess Hall in Hawaii.

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President-elect Barack Obama visits with Marines and sailors during their holiday meal Dec. 25, 2008, at the Anderson Mess Hall on Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Obama spent the holidays vacationing in Hawaii prior to taking office on Jan. 20. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Alesha R. Guard.

Full story after the Jump.

President-elect Obama visits troops

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII —Marines and sailors at Marine Corps Base Hawaii were surprised with a special visitor during their holiday dinner at Anderson Mess Hall Thursday evening.

As the troops enjoyed their turkey and pie, President-elect Barack Obama mingled with the service members and families, wishing all a happy holiday season and thanking them for their service.

"I was most impressed that he met with the Marines and sailors individually," said Lt. Richard House, Chaplain, MCBH. "It was a 'Wow' moment. He could've been with his family, but he was with Marines and sailors today. I think that says a lot about him."

To be personally thanked with a smile and handshake for their service meant the world to the Marines and sailors, House said.

"I was ecstatic to meet the newly elected president," said Seaman Recruit Kywame Summers, storekeeper, Patrol Squadron 47.

Seaman Apprentice Jeff Trenton, Aviation Machinist Mate, VP-47, said the president elect didn't simply make an appearance but took his time eating and speaking one-on-one with the troops.

"He asked where I was from and how I was doing," Trenton said. "To me, it showed he is truly interested in the people who serve our country."

With a big smile and endless enthusiasm, Obama made his way around the mess hall to each table, talking and laughing with the Marines and sailors.

"It was very generous of him to spend the holiday with service members - to show he cares about the troops and what we're doing," said Sgt. Ashley Thompson, food service specialist, Anderson Mess Hall. "It increased my confidence in him even more. He showed he has the characteristics of a leader, which is what it's going to take to lead our county."

Gunnery Sgt. Henry Pollard, assistant manager, Anderson Mess Hall, said Obama's visit displayed his deep appreciation and concern for service members.

"To come here . . . showed a level of selflessness and showed the level of support we have from him," said Pollard, while enjoying his holiday meal at Anderson Mess Hall with his family.

After Obama's visit, Pollard said he now feels military members have support not only from the president elect but also from his family.

"His wife is behind him 100 percent, understanding his role and him coming out here to be with the troops," Pollard said.

Obama is not 'just talk', Pollard said, because he's still putting in the work to support the people who voted for him.

"He showed the level of commitment he has is going to continue, so that when he is in office he's not going to forget about our military service members," Pollard said.

Lieutenant Col. Thomas W. Ward, base inspector, Base Inspector's Office, HQBN, also enjoyed a greeting from Obama while eating Christmas dinner with his family at the mess hall.

"His visit was so special," said Delilah Ward, spouse. "He was so personable, and made the extra effort to ask everyone their name."

Taking the time to greet each service member and family, displayed what a great leader he is, said Lt. Gen. Keith Stalder, Commanding General, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific.

"He was very gracious and kind to come spend Christmas with us," said Stalder, speaking of the president-elect. "We are so grateful he would do something like this - he cares about the American people because he told them so today," Stalder said.

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