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Readout of Secretary Hagel’s Calls to Service Members on Independence Day

Press Operations

Release No: NR-360-14
July 4, 2014

Assistant Press Secretary Carl Woog provided the following readout:

This morning, Secretary Hagel called service members deployed to Afghanistan to wish them a happy Independence Day.

The secretary thanked them for what they do to defend the United States and their tireless efforts to support to the Afghan people in this critical period of transition.

In each call, Secretary Hagel thanked the family members of those deployed for their sacrifice as well.

Secretary Hagel spoke with the following service members:

Sgt. Preston D. Pugh, U.S. Army, 27, of Chester, West Virginia currently deployed with the 10th Mountain Division to Bagram Air Base. Pugh is a military police officer and recently re-enlisted. He and his wife Amanda have a one-year-old daughter.

Senior Airman Ashley Watson, U.S. Air Force, 29, of Columbia, South Carolina deployed to Bagram Air Base. Watson is a sensor operator and squadron scheduler for a team that tracks friendly forces and targets. Ashley was recently named one of the Henry E. “Red” Erwin Outstanding Career Enlisted Aviators of the year. She and her wife Mackenzie live in Northern California.

Staff Sgt. Nathan E. Burrell, U.S. Marine Corps, 27, of Bloomingdale, Illinois currently deployed to Camp Leatherneck. Burrell is an immediate response team commander on his fourth deployment – two to Iraq and two to Afghanistan – and last month received a combat promotion to staff sergeant. He and his wife Annalisa have two young children and live in Twentynine Palms, California.

Engineering Assistant Second Class, Sam Rinaldo, U.S. Navy, 22, of Rochester, New York deployed to ISAF headquarters in Kabul. Rinaldo is on his first deployment as a Navy Reservist and is on academic leave from the Rochester Institute of Technology where he is studying civil engineering. Rinaldo helps oversee training processes within the Afghan Ministry of Defense Construction Property Management Department. He and his wife Marjory have a two-year-old daughter.