Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and his wife, Janet, will celebrate the holiday season with some of the more than 230,000 U.S. military personnel serving abroad this December. Their trip includes stops in Italy, the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Bosnia, Dec. 24 and 25, 1997.
On Dec. 24 in Naples, Secretary and Mrs. Cohen will have breakfast aboard the USS Guam with sailors and Marines assigned to units of the U.S. Sixth Fleet. Other units in port include the USS South Carolina and the USS Apache.
After their stop in Naples, the Secretary and his wife will travel to the United Nations base in Skopji, FYROM and visit with troops serving with Task Force (TF) Able Sentry.
Christmas Eve and the next morning will be spent with the men and women serving as members of the NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR) at Eagle Base, Tuzla, Bosnia. During his last trip to Bosnia in October, Cohen noted the sacrifices made by the U.S servicemen and women deployed overseas, "We know the sacrifices that you are making. When I say that you are the best of the best, it comes from the heart."
Accompanying him throughout the trip will be Grammy Award winning singer Mary Chapin Carpenter. She will perform concerts aboard the Guam and in the FYROM. On Christmas Eve, Ms. Carpenter will perform at the "21 Club", the main recreational facility at Eagle Base. Ms. Carpenter's trip is sponsored by the USO, a non-government organization supported by private citizens and corporations. The USO provides vital services to America's men and women in uniform.
Secretary and Mrs. Cohen, and Ms. Carpenter will also help distribute gifts to area children who have lost one or both parents. The gifts are part of an active stateside program sponsored by U.S. troops in Multinational Division-North to benefit local orphanages and schools. Under the program, families and friends of U.S. troops attached to the units send small gifts for presentation to local boys and girls.
Secretary Cohen will return to Washington on Thursday, Dec.25.