defense secretary austin makes personal holidays calls to deployed us military service members

While Americans pack for a busy weekend of holiday plans, thousands of military service members continue to protect the United States at duty stations around the world.

On Thursday and Friday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks made personal phone calls to thank those who are serving abroad during the Christmas season, according to a press release from the Department of Defense.

The military’s top brass thanked the men and women for their service and sacrifice at home and abroad, especially during the season.

Austin and Hicks also acknowledge the “immense sacrifice” that members of the military and their families make throughout the holidays.

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Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin delivers remarks during the U.S. Naval Academy Graduation and Commissioning Ceremony at the Naval Academy May 26, 2023 in Annapolis, Maryland. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

According to the press release, Secretary Austin spoke with service members from the following units:

  • U.S. Air Force’s 494th Expeditionary Fighter Generation Squadron. Airmen from this unit are maintenance professionals responsible for all flight level launches, recoveries, and sustained operations wherever the Strike Eagle is tasked to deploy.
  • U.S. Navy’s USS BOXER. The USS BOXER is the flagship of Amphibious Squadron 5 and is currently underway for amphibious and marine integrated exercises in the Pacific.
U.S. military personnel

U.S. military personnel and volunteers make preparations for arriving evacuees at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. (Ramstein Air Base photo) (Ramstein Air Base)

According to the press release, Deputy Secretary Hicks also spoke with service members from the following units:

  • U.S. Marine Corps ‘V22’, 2d Battalion, 2d Marine Division. Marines from this infantry battalion are forward-deployed to serve as the Ground Combat Element in support of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Global Force Management requirements.
  • U.S. Space Force’s 5th Space Warning Squadron, Detachment 5. Guardians from this unit provide strategic and theater missile warning to the U.S. and our international partners.
  • U.S. Army’s Task Force Marne, 3rd Infantry Division. Soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division are deployed in Poland to work alongside NATO allies and regional security partners to provide combat-credible forces to V Corps.
Air Force

U.S. Air Force pilot Brad Lynch stands in front of an Air Force A10 fighter aircraft during a media day for International Air Force Maneuver Air Defender 2023.  (Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Throughout his term, President Biden along with First Lady Jill Biden, have marked major holidays by taking time to call members of all six branches of the military.

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At Thanksgiving, President Biden shared on X that they spoke to members of the military, calling them “the best of us.”

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“This Thanksgiving, Jill and I spoke with members of our Armed Forces to offer our sincere gratitude for the sacrifices they make every day to protect our freedom,” the president wrote in an X post. “They’re the best of us. “

US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden

US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden read Twas the Night Before Christmas while visiting Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC, US, on Friday, Dec. 22, 2023. (Julia Nikhinson/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The president and first lady on Friday also carried on another tradition with their third annual visit to Children’s National Hospital.

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The first lady read Clement Clarke Moore’s “The Night Before Christmas” before the Bidens chatted with children and their parents.

“Jill and I spent time here — the same as you parents did — with our children, because of their circumstances,” Biden said. “You know that old expression, ‘where there’s life there’s hope.’ Hopefully you kids come back when you’re out of the hospital and hang out with other kids, so you know what it’s like.”

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