WASHINGTON – President Bush, who is spending Christmas at the Camp David presidential retreat, called 10 members of the U.S. military on Sunday to thank them for their service and wish them a happy holiday.
During the calls, which were placed to troops stationed overseas or have recently returned from deployments abroad before 8 a.m. EST, the president asked about the status of troop morale, said deputy White House press secretary Dana Perino.
"He said he wanted to call to let them know how much he appreciates their service and how proud he is of each of them," she said. "He asked them to please pass on his thanks to the men and women they serve with, and to give his best, on this Christmas, to their families."
Bush called the following servicemen and women:
—Army Sgt. Jonathan J. Corell, who has been serving in Afghanistan for 18 months. He has advanced skills in assault weaponry, which he uses while scouting and patrolling. His wife, Danielle, lives in Syracuse, N.Y.
—Army Pfc. Rebekah Vandiver, based out of Schofield, Hawaii, is deployed to Speicher, Iraq. As a combat medic, she is responsible for the prescreening of patients that enter the Battalion Aid Station. Her husband, Stephen, and three children live in Hawaii.
—Marine Sgt. Ricardo E. Contreras, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., is deployed to Fallujah, Iraq. As a career counselor in the Marines, he is responsible for the retention and career development of the enlisted Marines in the 1st Marine Headquarters Group. His wife, Deborah, lives in San Clemente, Calif.
—Marine Lance Cpl. Michael P. Matherne is a member of the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron-211 and the Marine Air Group-16 out of Yuma, Ariz. He is serving in Al Asad, Iraq, as an aircraft communications and navigation weapons systems technician and repairs the squadrons 16 AV-8B Harrier jets.
—Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dwayne W. Meyer, a member of the Provincial Reconstruction Team at Naval Station North Island in San Diego, Calif. As a communications specialist in Kala Gosh, Afghanistan, he repairs communication devices, including satellite radios. His wife, Rebecca, lives in Chula Vista, Calif.
—Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Rahm Panjwani, who serves aboard the USS Boxer. As the ship's sailor of the year in 2005, he led 60 personnel in the safe receipt, transfer and delivery of more than 2 million gallons of aviation fuel during more than 2,100 aircraft refuelings. His wife, Heather, lives in San Antonio, Texas.
—Air Force Master Sgt. John W. Gahan, who serves in the 40th Airlift Squadron at Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, has been with the Air Force for more than 17 years. He is deployed to Al Muthana Air Base, Iraq, with the 23rd Air Force Squadron, and provides upgrade training to new Iraqi C-130 fleet aviators. His wife, Karen, lives in Abilene, Texas.
—Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mark S. Pleis Jr., who serves in the Defense Information Systems Agency in Stuttgart, Germany, where he lives with his wife, Erica, and two children. He supervises 30 joint military and civilian network controllers in the operational direction of the $2.4 billion European Global Information Grid.
—Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class David A. Rosales, who is based in his homeport in Naval Support Activity, Bahrain, and serves on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Monomoy. He plays an instrumental role in the launch and recovery of small boats, mooring and a host of other operations. He has volunteered to serve an additional six months in the North Arabian Gulf.
—Coast Guard Seaman Rayford B. Mitchell, who serves aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Diligence based out of Wilmington, N.C., and deployed to the western Caribbean Sea. Mitchell, a native of Columbia, S.C., works with the deck department, where he does hull and exterior maintenance and is also responsible for the cleanliness and general condition of the ship.