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Obama visits Marine base on Christmas

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama made their annual and final Christmas Day visit with military members and their families at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe.

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama made their annual and final Christmas Day visit with military members and their families at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe. Pictured are attendees documenting the visit with their phones.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    President Barack Obama greets people waiting for him outside Island Snow Hawaii in Kailua, Hawaii, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016, after the president, joined by family and friends, had shave ice during the first family’s annual vacation.

For eight years, Barack Obama has led a military fighting in multiple theaters overseas, becoming the only president in U.S. history to serve full two terms with the nation at war. Today, he sought to pay tribute to the men and women who sacrificed along the way in battles that will continue even after his presidency comes to a close.

There was a tinge of nostalgia as Obama visited U.S. troops on Christmas for the last time, and some solemnity, too. The president, who spent Christmas Eve calling troops serving overseas, pointed out that as Americans celebrate the holidays, U.S. troops are serving in dangerous, remote places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

He said some were carrying out missions against the Islamic State group even on Christmas Day.

“As tough as it is to be deployed, the people here in America, back home, understand that every single day you serve, you’re fighting for our freedom,” the president said, with first lady Michelle Obama at his side.

The latest on Obama’s annual holiday vacation in Hawaii (all times local):

4:45 p.m.

President Barack Obama says it has been “the privilege of my life” to serve as the commander in chief of the U.S. military.

Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are visiting U.S. troops at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe. It’s the last time Obama will take part in his annual Christmas tradition as president.

Obama says his gratitude to the military won’t stop once his term ends. He says his commitment to standing by the military “every step of the way” continues.

The president is noting that U.S. troops are serving on Christmas in dangerous places like Iraq and Afghanistan, with some engaged in missions against the Islamic State group. He says they should know that Americans understand that they serve every day to protect U.S. freedoms.

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12:40 p.m.

President Barack Obama will spend Christmas afternoon visiting with U.S. Marines and their families.

The White House says the president and first lady Michelle Obama will visit Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, to thank troops for their service. It’s become an annual Christmas Day tradition for the president.

The visit is the major outing for the president this Christmas. The White House says Obama and his wife and daughters spent the morning at their vacation rental playing games and opening Christmas gifts.

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11:40 a.m.

President Barack Obama is thanking U.S. troops serving overseas during Christmas and the holidays for serving the nation.

The White House says Obama spent Christmas Eve calling service members from each of the military’s branches, including the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, Army and Navy.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz says Obama “expressed his gratitude on behalf of all Americans for the service and sacrifice of our troops and their families.”

Obama placed the calls from Hawaii, where he is on vacation with his family.

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10:50 a.m.

President Barack Obama is celebrating Christmas with a quiet morning at his vacation home in Hawaii.

The president, first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia are on the island of Oahu. Obama was expected to stay at the rental home in Kailua for much of the day, opening presents with his family and taking part in other family traditions.

Traditionally, Obama spends part of the day at a nearby military base visiting with U.S. troops as they have Christmas dinner.

The Obamas are midway through their annual two-week vacation in Obama’s home state. This is the last time Obama will celebrate Christmas in Hawaii — at least as president.

The White House says Vice President Joe Biden is spending the Christmas holiday at his home in Wilmington, Del.

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  • Why does Obama always visit the Marines on Christmas? Does he not know there are four other services on Oahu? He probably does, but it would take too long to visit any of them and take time away from his golfing.

      • Kuihao, cite one time, just one, when Obama paid a visit to the troops on Christmas Day other than at Kaneohe to show how ridiculous and petty my comment is. The White House says Obama spent Christmas Eve calling service members from each of the military’s branches, including the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, Army and Navy, but that is not visiting the troops. Moreover, there happens to be another U.S. military branch on Oahu called the U.S. Coast Guard. Did he call someone from that service? Probably not since it was not mentioned in the story. His staff probably did not know the Coast Guard is a military service.

        • Sorry, but the Coast Guard is not in the DoD. It is in the Department of Transportation. It is not considered a military organization. That is substantiated by the fact that it does law enforcement, which defense personnel cannot do under our constitution. However, I agree, he should have visited Scofield, and H-PH.

        • In fairness, this is his vacation. I believe he visits the Marines because they are nearby and his caravan of protective and support staff do not snarl up traffic as they might if they were going to Schofield. He is going to Pearl on Tuesday and that may show us the degree of traffic congestion more distant service visits entail.. ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

        • Pridon, you need to get yourself educated about the U.S. armed forces. The following are excerpts from the Coast Guard’s official website:

          “The legal basis for the Coast Guard is Title 14 of the United States Code, which states: “The Coast Guard as established January 28, 1915, shall be a military service and a branch of the armed forces of the United States at all times.” Upon the declaration of war or when the President directs, the Coast Guard operates under the authority of the Department of the Navy.”

          “As members of a military service, Guardians on active duty and in the Reserve are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and receive the same pay and allowances as members of the same pay grades in the other four armed services.”

          https://www.uscg.mil/top/missions/default.asp

        • Pridon, one more thing. The Coast Guard is not in the Department of Transportation. It used to be, but it has been in the Department of Homeland Security since it was formed in 2002. Happy New Year.

        • Bothrops, I am being fair. During my long career in the US Army, I was expected to dine with the troops under my command on Thanksgiving and Christmas. It did not matter that those were holidays when I and most troops were off duty. It was military protocol for commanders to dine with their troops and in formal military attire. I believe that still is the protocol for military commanders, except that it is not practiced by the military’s Commander in Chief. With regard to not wanting to snarl traffic, that is never a concern on his many sojourns to play golf, dine in Waikiki, or visit his prostitute-seeking friend on the North Shore, so there is no reason to believe that would be a concern if he was to visit Schofield Barracks or another military installation.

  • Made the mistake a few years back taking my wife to the base to share Xmas dinner with the troops. Obama showed up and we were held hostage for 2 hrs while he and the wife were there. Even though we had finished our meal as he walked in, the SS would not let us leave until Obama had cleared the building. Another reason to despise this guy…never went back again and of course now military retirees are denied entry..Go figure…

    • Yes, and when Obama and his vacationing friends go to the gym to work out or shoot hoops, the troops for whom the gym was built can’t get anywhere near the place. Same with the golf course.

    • The difference between obama and Trump is that Trump genuinely respects and appreciates the military rather than paying lip service. No matter how hard he tries, his phoniness comes through loud and clear. So glad I did not have to serve under his “leadership”.

  • Cloudy and windy! Wishing the sun and tradewinds return for a last hurrah for the Obamas! Looking forward to peace and goodwill in the New Year and beyond! God bless everyone of you out there and in the whole world!

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