Obama settles into military role
U.S. President-elect Barack Obama is not yet commander in chief of the armed forces, but he appears to be warming up to the role as he prepares to take office on Jan. 20 and begin withdrawing troops from Iraq and sending more to Afghanistan.
First, he used his Christmas message to pay tribute to the “selfless sacrifice” of the men and women in uniform, and then on Christmas Day, in his only public outing, he visited a Marine Corps base in Hawaii, where he is holidaying, to thank the Marines and sailors stationed there for their service.
He spent 75 minutes shaking hands, chatting with the servicemen and posing for photographs at their cafeteria, where they had been enjoying a traditional Christmas dinner before his surprise arrival.
Obama is no stranger to the base. He has been visiting it every day since his arrival to work out at the gym there. He broke that routine on Christmas Day, resetting the clock on the seven-day-a-week workout regimen that he religiously follows when at home in Chicago.
Some of the servicemen appeared bemused to see him, while others whipped out their camera phones to snap pictures after he walked into the cafeteria with a bellowed “Hi everybody, Merry Christmas.”
Local media reported that a Marine stationed at the base, Lance Corporal Thomas Reilly Jr, 19, had been killed in an attack in Iraq’s western Anbar province on Sunday.