Secretary Carter’s Calls to Service Members on Thanksgiving

Today, Defense Secretary Ash Carter called service members taking part in U.S. operations around the world to wish them a happy Thanksgiving.

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

The Secretary spoke with the following service members:

U.S. Army Spc. Ian R. Howland, 22, of Racine, Wisconsin.  Howland is a platoon line medic who delivers critical medical aid to his unit while deployed to the Central Command area of responsibility.  Howland recently led the medical evacuation of a partner nation soldier, which strengthened the cohesiveness of the coalition force.

U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Gerard M. Van Amerongen, 33, of New York, New York.   Van Amerongen is a team commander for a Marine Special Operations Team deployed in the Central Command area of responsibility.  Awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor, he led his special operations team on several missions that were instrumental in providing stability to partner nations.

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Lena Natta, 27, of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.  Natta is currently deployed to the Mediterranean Sea, serving aboard USS CARNEY where she is responsible for maintaining the entire engineering plant as the main propulsion maintenance person.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Travis Freeman, 26, of Sacramento, California.   Freeman works at the Combined Air Operations Center and is responsible for establishing and maintaining the communication links necessary to producing a common tactical picture of the air environment across the Central Command theater of operations.  His efforts were vital to the command and control of airpower in support of combat operations.

Additionally, Secretary Carter called an Airman providing strategic deterrence within the United States to thank him for his vigilance.  U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Robert Mort, 24, of Decatur, Alabama, was sitting watch on Thanksgiving Day at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming.  He was instrumental in his crew being named the best intercontinental ballistic missile combat crew in Air Force Global Strike Command.

Secretary Carter was very grateful for the time these young leaders gave him.  He asked that each pass on his best wishes to their units as well.

Release No: NR-450-15
November 26, 2015

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