By Lisa Ferdinando and Shannon Collins, DoD News, Defense Media ActivityJanuary 23, 2017
WASHINGTON -- President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump honored members of the armed forces, thanking them for their sacrifice and service during the Salute to Our Armed Services Ball at the National Building Museum here Saturday.
"I want to thank you on behalf of Melania, myself, the family and the millions of people all over the world," Trump said. "The job you've done is absolutely incredible, absolutely incredible."
Via live link, he addressed service members at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.
"How is it over there?" he asked them.
"Congratulations on becoming the president of the United States," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Campbell of the Illinois Army National Guard.
Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Robert Gala, who advises and assists coalition partners in Afghanistan, echoed Campbell's sentiment. "On behalf of all the Marines here in Afghanistan, we'd just like to say congratulations and good luck to you on your term," he said.
PLEDGE OF SUPPORT
Trump said he enjoyed receiving congratulations from the service members in Afghanistan. "You are the nicest people," he said. "Thank you very much. I'm with you all the way. You have somebody that's going to be right alongside you. We're going to do it together. Honestly, not only the support you've given me, but the courage you show is incredible, and it's going to be appreciated. It's going to be appreciated more than ever before."
"We are with you a thousand percent," Trump continued. "Keep fighting. We're going to win. We're going to win. I have your back. We're going to make America great again."
The first lady also offered her appreciation to the service members. "I thank you all for your service," she said. "I'm honored to be your first lady. We will fight. We will win, and we will make America great again."
As is tradition at the inaugural ball honoring the military, the new commander in chief and the first lady each shared a dance with a military member, as did Vice President Michael R. Pence and his wife, Karen.
-- The president danced with Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Catherine Cartmell, a Newport, Rhode Island, native who is a religious program specialist in the Office of the Chief of Navy Chaplains.
-- The first lady danced with Army Staff Sgt. Jose A. Medina from Ponce, Puerto Rico, a human resource specialist who is assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Battalion, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) and served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
-- The vice president danced with Air Force Master Sgt. Tiffany Bradbury, who was born in Pusan, South Korea, and serves at Headquarters U.S. Air Force as recruiter superintendent of enlisted accessions policy. She served in Operation Southern Watch in Saudi Arabia.
-- The vice president's wife danced with Marine Corps Sgt. Angel Rodriguez from Camden, New Jersey, who is assigned to Marine Barracks Washington as a post supply warehouse chief and has served in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
TROOPS IN IRAQ
At the start of the evening's event, Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asked U.S. service members in Baghdad via satellite, "Are we taking the fight to the enemy over there?"
"Hooah," the team responded.
Troxell then asked them, "As the world watches today, as America demonstrates democracy through the peaceful transition of power, what does it mean for you to be part of this historic day for our nation?"
"On behalf of the members here of the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, we are extremely proud to be part of this historic moment," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Rob Frasier, 1st Infantry Division. "We're honored to serve and to work with our Iraqi partners and our coalition partners to continue to make Iraq safe for the people here."
Service members and their families -- as well as veterans, first responders, wounded warriors and Medal of Honor recipients -- were among the invited guests.
Musical performers were Tony Orlando and the Josh Weathers Band.