Coast Guardsmen get holiday call from President Obama

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President call
AFIFJAN, Kuwait – Petty Officer 2nd Class Dustin Monroe (standing) talks with President Obama while Petty Officer 1st Class Tom Carry (left) and Petty Officer 2nd Class Mike Fonseca (seated) listen. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Update: Additional quote from Chief Petty Officer Michael J. McCaskill, Coast Guard Cutter Wrangell, plus photo.

Part of President Obama’s Christmas morning included a personal phone call to members of the military, thanking them for their service.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Dustin Monroe, a yeoman assigned as a hazardous materials inspector to the Coast Guard’s Redeployment Inspection-Assistance Detachment (RAID), spent about two minutes chatting with the President.

“It was definitely an honor and a cool experience,” said Monroe, a Missoula, Montana native who is halfway through a yearlong deployment with the 17-member RAID team. “He asked me how things were going so far and wished us a happy holiday season. It was fun and I’m glad I was able to share the experience with my Coast Guard and Army teammates.”

“Today, we’re also thinking of those who can’t be home for the holidays – especially all our courageous countrymen serving overseas,” Obama said in his Weekly Address with the First Lady. “America’s brave servicemen and women represent a small fraction of our population. But they and the families who await their safe return carry far more than their fair share of the burden.”

Monroe has spent the past six months at forward locations throughout Iraq in order to help Army units return equipment and personnel to the States. The RAID team is one of a handful of units assigned to Coast Guard Patrol Forces Southwest Asia, a 300-member strong unit based in Bahrain, which supports missions throughout the Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn theaters.

Chief Petty Officer Michael McCaskill takes a call from President Obama on the bridge of CGC McCaskill on Christmas Day. U.S. Coast Guard photo.
Chief Petty Officer Michael McCaskill takes a call from President Obama on the bridge of CGC Wrangell on Christmas Day. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Monroe was one of just two Coast Guardsmen to receive phone calls from the Commander in Chief this holiday morning. The other is aboard a Coast Guard patrol boat in the Arabian Gulf.

Chief Petty Officer Michael J. McCaskill, a machinist technician aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Wrangell, was underway providing maritime infrastructure protection operations in the territorial water of Iraq in the Northern Arabian Gulf when he was called to the bridge for a call from Obama.

“It was a great honor to have the President of the United States, our Commander-In-Chief, call and wish the guys and myself a merry Christmas personally,” said McCaskill. “The President’s oldest is about the same age as my daughter and he and I discussed and agreed how the older your kids get, sleeping in longer on Christmas morning is often more of a concern then seeing what’s under the tree.”

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