IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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


Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby provided the following readout:

This morning, Secretary Hagel called service members taking part in U.S. operations around the world to wish them a Merry Christmas.

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:

Specialist Randolph A. Priest, U.S. Army, of Barren Springs, Virginia. Specialist Priest is a communications specialist serving in Afghanistan who is responsible for ensuring reliable communications between the headquarters and soldiers.

Captain Laura A. Klepper, U.S. Air Force, of Palmdale, California. Capt. Klepper is an F-15E weapon system officer deployed to the Central Command area of responsibility, providing combat airpower in support of regional missions. She was selected as her squadron’s flight commander of the year.

Corporal Thomas A. Vasko, Jr., U.S. Marine Corps, of Medina, Ohio. Cpl. Vasko is an infantry advisor in Afghanistan, training allies in how to conduct patrols to prevent enemy freedom of movement and indirect fire attacks. He is also an assistant patrol leader.

Petty Officer First Class Taylor A. Porter, U.S. Navy, of Dayton, Washington. Petty Officer Porter is deployed to the Central Command area of responsibility and leads an 11-person team in ensuring aviation equipment is maintained and safe for flight. She was selected as her squadron’s maintainer of the year and led the stand-up of a unit supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.

The secretary was delighted to be able to reach these service members, forward deployed as they are, and to wish them his best for the holiday. He asked that each pass on his best wishes to their units as well. The secretary was very grateful for the time these young leaders gave him.