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President Bush thanks Pentagon troops for service

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Jan. 04, 2006) -- President George W. Bush greeted a handful of Airmen today after wrapping up discussion with top Department of Defense leaders about the war in Iraq.

Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines lined a hallway near the Pentagon office of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for the meeting.

President George W. Bush shakes hands with Staff Sgt. David Kolcun of the Air Force Surgeon General's office after the president met with senior defense officials in the Pentagon today. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (far right), and other defense leaders, also stopped to shake hands with enlisted members from all the services. The president met with Secretary Rumsfeld to discuss the war in Iraq. Department of Defense photo by Helene C. Stikkel.

Staff Sgt. David Kolcun, who works in the office of the Air Force Surgeon General, was one of the Airmen who met the president.

"I was so nervous,” he said. "The Secret Service was talking to us and keeping it lively.”

Sergeant Kolcun said the president was cordial and thanked each military member for his or her service. Sergeant Kolcun thanked the president for his service.

"I told him I also appreciate what he was doing," Sergeant Kolcun said.

Sergeant Kolcun said, “It was pretty neat” that he was able to "shake the hand of the commander in chief -- and not just in a crowd -- but a one-on-one handshake."

Senior Airman Erik Nelson, an Air Force Honor Guard and a Pentagon tour guide, also met the president.

"I asked if he'd watch the University of Texas-University of South California (Rose Bowl) game today," Airman Nelson said. "He said he had a feeling the ‘Horns’ might pull it off."

Airman Nelson, as part of his job, regularly meets high-ranking military officials. During his Pentagon tour, he’s met the Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley and Secretary Rumsfeld. He also got to meet then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. (ret.)Richard B. Myers and then Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. (ret.) John P. Jumper.

Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace also shook hands with the troops.