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US Officials Visit Troops Ahead of Christmas Holiday

  • VOA News

President Donald Trump meets retired U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. John Peck and his wife, Jessica, as Trump visits with wounded service members and their families at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Dec. 21, 2017, in Bethesda, Md.

As part of an annual holiday tradition, U.S. President Donald Trump and other senior administration officials visited American troops around the world on Thursday.

Trump visited wounded soldiers at at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center just outside Washington.

"We'll be over there for a while, but we're just going to wish them a Merry Christmas," he told reporters as he left the White House. He called the soldiers "some of the bravest people anywhere in the world."

The visit came one day before Trump is scheduled to leave the capital to spend the holidays at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

WATCH: Trump holiday visit

Top US Officials Pay Pre-holiday Visits to US Troops
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​Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Afghanistan for a pre-Christmas surprise visit to the troops fighting America's longest war.

Under heavy security, Pence landed at Bagram Air Base, where he thanked some of the roughly 15,000 U.S. personnel still in the country. Later, he flew into Kabul to meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, telling the Afghan leaders that the Trump administration was "here to see this through."

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence poses for photos with troops at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, Dec. 21, 2017.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence poses for photos with troops at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, Dec. 21, 2017.

Pence told Ghani that the U.S. was committed to helping Afghanistan achieve peace and security.

Closer to home, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis visited U.S. troops at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station in Cuba.

The unannounced visit was the first by a defense secretary since January 2002 when Donald Rumsfeld visited shortly after the first prisoners arrived there from Afghanistan.

Mattis spoke to three groups of troops, offering holiday greetings and thanks for their service. "I need you to be at the top of your game,'' he said, asking the several hundred soldiers in attendance to always be ready for war.

Later, Mattis was scheduled to fly to Mayport Naval Station in Florida and visit Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg, both in North Carolina, on Friday.

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