From: Lee, Carol
Sent: Sunday, December 25, 2016 5:02 PM
To: Rutherford, Sarah D. EOP/WHO
Subject: Travel pool report #3 - 12/25/16
Pool entered the mess hall at 4:24pm. It packed with uniformed service members and their families. The hall was festively decorated, with Christmas trees, wreaths and tinsel.
POTUS and FLOTUS emerged through two wooden doors, each adorned with a wreath, and stepped onto a small platform that was draped in Christmas red cloth. There was applause when they entered.
POTUS was wearing khakis and a blue checkered shirt dress shirt and brown shoes. FLOTUS was wearing a sleeveless wrap dress with navy, olive and teal thick vertical stripes, strappy sandals and lots of bangle bracelets.
A Christmas tree was to their left off the platform and the seals of the U.S. Navy were above the doors behind them. A small wooden stool was on the platform, with a hand-held microphone set on it.
POTUS picked up the microphone and spoke for about 4 minutes.
"This is one of our favorite things to do because it's one of those circumstances where you get a chance to not just say thank you to our incredible men and women in uniform, but oftentimes we also get a chance to see some families," he said after thanking the generals on the base and the troops.
"Not only do our troops serve but their families serve alongside them," he said, which drew applause although the first lady thought it should get more and encouraged more cheers for that.
"Yesterday during Christmas... or yesterday during Christmas Eve, thank you," Mr. Obama said after he was corrected about what day it is.
"He's on vacation," Mrs. Obama explained.
"No, hold on," Mr. Obama said. "There's a reason for that error."
He said yesterday he called U.S. troops stationed overseas in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Some, he said, are as we speak carrying out missions to defeat Islamic State and "all manner of threats."
He said he reminded them that as tough as it is to be deployed, Americans understand that every day they are serving to keep the country safe. (POTUS never fully explained why there was a reason for his error but it seems it was because yesterday when POTUS was making calls from Hawaii it was Christmas Day for some of those he was speaking to, given the time differences.)
"It's impossible for us to fully repay what you've done and the sacrifices that you've made, but at least it's important to hear from us that what you do matters, and that we know about it and that we're grateful and that we'll stay grateful even when many of you end up being out of uniform and our veterans," he said.
"I just want all of you to know that it has been the privilege of my life to serve as your commander in chief. I know Michelle feels the same way when it comes to being able to stand alongside our military families and our veterans," he said.
"And although this will be my last time addressing you as president I want you to know that as a citizen my gratitude will remain and our commitment to standing by you every step of the way - that won't stop," he said.
"So thank you so much for everything that you've done. I hope you guys have had a wonderful Christmas. Young people, I hope Santa was okay. And we look forward to seeing you for many years to come because I understand that I still have a little bit of rank as ex-president, so I still get to use the gym on base and, of course, the golf course," he said.
POTUS then wished everyone a Merry Christmas, which drew applause, before he and FLOTUS exited back through the wooden double doors.
Pool has since been holding in the van while POTUS and FLOTUS greet troops.
The Wall Street Journal