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President Wishes Bagram Airman Happy Thanksgiving

By Capt. Michael Meridith, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan, Nov. 23, 2007 – It’s not every day that an airman can pick up the phone and talk to his commander in chief, but for one airman serving in Afghanistan that 's exactly what happened Nov. 22 -- Thanksgiving Day.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Airman 1st Class Chris Ericksen, right, serving with the 455th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, speaks to President George W. Bush over a speaker phone on Nov. 22, 2007. The president wished Airman Ericksen and "all the folks you're with" a happy Thanksgiving.

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Airman 1st Class Chris Ericksen, a fuel distribution systems operator deployed from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram Air Base, received a Thanksgiving Day call from President George W. Bush.

After wishing him a happy holiday, the president expressed appreciation for Ericksen’s service. Upon learning that the Sioux Falls, S.D., native hadn’t had his Thanksgiving meal yet, the president even offered to have some turkey “on his behalf.”

“I like mine with gravy on the top, Mr. President,” Ericksen replied.

After a brief conversation, Ericksen asked the president if there was anything he wanted to say to all of the service members on Bagram Air Base.

“I wish you and all the folks you’re with a happy Thanksgiving day,” the president said. “Good luck to you in Afghanistan – it’s an important mission.”

Ericksen was notified about two weeks ago that he would be receiving the call, but admitted to being surprised at first. “I didn’t think I would be lucky enough to be chosen,” he said.

Senior Master Sgt. Dean Abbott, the 455th Fuels Management Flight "his work ethic, his willingness to help others and take on leadership responsibilities really sets him apart. He is an all-around great Airman.”

The call, though short, meant a lot to Ericksen. "It was definitely an honor," he said. “And it’s good to know how much the president respects what we’re doing."

(Capt. Michael Meridith is assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs)

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