Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter spent Thanksgiving and the next day -- some of his last days in office -- in Afghanistan, shuttling between forward operating bases in Blackhawk helicopters, looking troops in the eye, shaking their hands and thanking them for their sacrifice and service.
Carter's wife Stephanie was beside him, on her first visit to the war zone. For years they'd spent weekends visiting wounded warriors together at the hospital now called the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md, he said.
"Her heart's in it the same way mine is, but she's only had the opportunity to see wounded troops after they've arrived back in the states, so it was good for her to see what these magnificent men and women look like when they're actually doing their jobs," the deputy secretary said.
Stephanie hears from him about Afghanistan "all the time," he said, "for all these years, and it was wonderful for me to see in her eyes all the things I've been telling her."
Carter announced Nov. 22 that on Dec. 4 he would return to private life, after nearly five years serving President Barack Obama and defense secretaries Chuck Hagel, Leon Panetta and Robert Gates -- first as undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics and for two years in his current position. Story