"He requested that each member serve as his messenger in passing along Holiday wishes from him and Mrs. Bush to all troops, as well as the special appreciation he has for our military men and women serving our country," said White House press secretary Dana Perino.
Knoller reports that back in the early days of the Clinton Administration, the White House actually allowed reporters to listen to an audio feed of the president's holiday phone calls to members of the U.S. military overseas. The practice was ended after a year or two.
Here's the menu of the Christmas Eve dinner and tomorrow's lunch at Camp David, as released by the White House:
Traditional Texas Christmas Eve Dinner
Enchiladas and Tamales
Rice and Pinto Beans
Christmas Day Lunch
Roast Turkey and Cornbread Dressing
The White House also released this background material on the nine troops the president called today:
Staff Sergeant Ryan E. Crissman, U.S. Army (Cleveland Heights, Ohio)
Staff Sergeant Ryan E. Crissman, U.S. Army, deployed to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, with HQs Support Company, 101st Division Special Troops Battalion, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Staff Sergeant Crissman was selected as 101st Division Special Troops Battalion and Combined Joint Task Force-IOI NCO of the Quarter for the Fourth Quarter 2008. This is Staff Sergeant Crissman's second deployment in support of the Global War on Terrorism. He previously served a tour in Samaria, Iraq.
Specialist Marcus T. Brown, U.S. Army (Brooklyn, New York)
Specialist Marcus T. Brown, U.S. Army, deployed to Baghdad, Iraq, with (FOB Falcon) Mortars, HQs and Headquarters Company, 122 Infantry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. On April 30, 2008, Specialist Brown's unit came under fire and he was wounded by an Explosively Formed Penetrator. Despite his wounds, he continued to fight and was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor Device. Specialist Brown is responsible for the technical attributes of his entire squad's weapon system and is an expert in all matters relating to the Infantry Mortar Platoon.
Corporal Louise M. Nowak, U.S. Marine Corps (Pound, Wisconsin)
Corporal Louise M. Nowak, U.S. Marine Corps, deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, with Combat Logistics Battalion-3, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force. Corporal Nowak is a Combat Engineer specializing in vertical and horizontal construction, demolitions, building bridges and working with mines. She also conducts mobility, survivability and counter-mobility missions.
Petty Officer First Class Jerry W. Pearse, U.S. Navy (Newberry Springs, California)
Petty Officer First Class Jerry W. Pearse, U.S. Navy, deployed to An Numaniyah Military Training Base, Iraq, with Logistics Maintenance Advisory Team, Coalition Army Advisory Training Team, Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq. Petty Officer Pearse is the Base Engineering Advisor, Maintenance Officer, and Assistant Contracting Officer Representative for the second largest Iraqi Army training base in Iraq.
Staff Sergeant Matthew "Matt" Hise, U.S. Air Force (Christiansburg, Virginia)
Staff Sergeant Matthew "Matt" Hise, U.S. Air Force, deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan, with 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas. Sergeant Hise is an Air Mobility load planner who ensures equipment and vehicles are certified for airlift and prepares weight and balance for cargo aircraft.
Senior Airman Daniel "Dan" Gutowski, U.S. Air Force (Manistee, Michigan)
Senior Airman Daniel "Dan" Gutowski, U.S. Air Force, deployed to Al Udeid AB, Qatar, with 15th Airlift Squadron, 437th Operations Group, 437th Airlift Wing, Charleston AFB, South Carolina, and is currently assigned to 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, 385th Air Expeditionary Group. Senior Airman Gutowski is a C-17A Special Ops Low Level II/Airdrop qualified Loadmaster, responsible for the loading/unloading of C-17A aircraft, and providing safe and efficient airlift for passengers. He earned two Air Medals for completing 40 demanding C-17A combat missions through Afghanistan and Iraq.
Petty Officer Second Class Larry N. Ambrose, U.S. Coast Guard (Edenton, North Carolina)
Petty Officer Second Class Larry N. Ambrose, U.S. Coast Guard, deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with USCG Port Security Unit 305, Fort Eustis, Virginia. Petty Officer Ambrose serves as a leading Petty Officer and Security Fire Team Leader. He is directly responsible for the supervision and training of six junior enlisted personnel. He was recently selected as the Port Security Unit 305 Sailor of the Quarter.
Fireman Matthew "Matt" Frounfelker, U.S. Coast Guard, (Beaver Creek, Ohio)
Fireman Matthew "Matt" Frounfelker, U.S. Coast Guard, deployed with USCGC Aquidneck currently in the Arabian Gulf. Fireman Frounfelker has participated in high risk boardings ensuring the safety and security of vessel traffic to and from the Al-Basra Oil Terminal and Khor al-Amaya Oil Terminal in the Northern Arabian Gulf. His shipboard duties include assistant to the damage control petty officer, boarding team member, small boat crewman, in port crewman and engineer of the watch (EOW).
Sergeant Aaron M. Simmons, U.S. Army, (Texas City, Texas)
Sergeant Aaron M. Simmons, U.S. Army, deployed to Baghdad, Iraq, with Attack Company, 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. Sergeant Simmons is a Team Leader in a Mechanized Infantry Company and ensures Soldiers meet standards in personal equipment and trains them to maintain and account for all of their equipment and property.