Obama thanks troops for service on Christmas visit to base

Wed Dec 25, 2013 10:21pm EST
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By Ros Krasny

KANOEHE BAY, Hawaii (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama and wife Michelle thanked U.S. troops for their service on Wednesday during a Christmas Day visit to Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kanoehe Bay.

The president addressed about 580 active duty service men and women for about three minutes, wishing them a "Mele Kalikimaka," and then spent time talking to troops individually and posing for photographs.

Obama told the troops assembled in the Anderson Hall dining facility that he had spent part of Christmas Eve speaking with 10 members of the military, stationed in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

"It was just a sampling of the incredible sacrifice that all of you and your families make every day," Obama said.

The White House said earlier the service members wounded on Saturday during an aborted rescue mission in South Sudan had been among those Obama had called.

Four military personnel were injured when their aircraft were fired upon during a mission to evacuate American citizens from chaotic South Sudan.

In an audio and internet message earlier on Wednesday Obama lauded the troops returning from service overseas.

As 2013 draws to a close "fewer of our men and women in uniform are deployed in harm's way than at any time in the last decade," Obama said, citing the end of the war in Iraq and a winding down of action in Afghanistan.   Continued...

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and first lady Michelle Obama greet military personnel during a Christmas day visit to Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe, Hawaii December 25, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque