Readout of Secretary Hagel’s Calls to Service Members on Thanksgiving

This morning, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called service members taking part in U.S. operations around the world to wish them a happy Thanksgiving.

Secretary Hagel expressed his appreciation for their service in defending the United States, and supporting our allies and partners.  In each of the calls, Secretary Hagel noted that he knows how difficult it is to be away from home on this holiday and thanked the service members and their families for their sacrifice for the nation.

Secretary Hagel spoke with representatives from each military service including the following service members:

Capt. Derek Van De Wege, U.S. Air Force, 27, of Federal Way, Wash.  Capt. Van De Wege is a C-17 aircraft commander at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait.  He has flown airdrop missions in support of Inherent Resolve over Iraq, delivering food, water and supplies.  

Sgt. Matthew S. Ohler, U.S. Marine Corps, 24, of Rockwood, Penn.  Sgt. Ohler is serving in Monrovia, Liberia, with the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response Africa as an MV-22B Osprey airframes mechanic.  He has maintained the hydraulic and composite systems for the four aircraft assigned to the unit as part of Operation United Assistance.      

First Lieutenant Darrel J. Guthrie II, U.S. Army, 24, of Lubbock, Texas.  Lt. Guthrie is a Light Infantry Platoon Leader with the 1st Platoon Bandit Troop in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.  Lt. Guthrie helped neutralize an attack on his patrol while providing security for a key leader engagement.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Ruddana P. Skipper, U.S. Navy, 24, of Riviera Beach, Florida.  Petty Officer Skipper is aboard the U.S.S. O’Kane as part of a 9-month deployment in the Arabian Gulf.  Petty Officer Skipper was selected as the U.S.S. O’Kane’s junior sailor of the year.  Petty Officer Skipper leads 15 sailors in the operation of over 500 pieces of communication and network equipment.