Airman receives holiday call from President

KIRKUK REGIONAL AIR BASE, Iraq - Master Sgt. Stonie Martin, 506th Expeditionary Contracting directorate, talks with President George W. Bush Thanksgiving Day.  Sergeant Martin was one of only two Air Force personnel to get a call from the commander in chief Thanksgiving day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Gene Lappe)

KIRKUK REGIONAL AIR BASE, Iraq - Master Sgt. Stonie Martin, 506th Expeditionary Contracting directorate, talks with President George W. Bush Thanksgiving Day. Sergeant Martin was one of only two Air Force personnel to get a call from the commander in chief Thanksgiving day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Gene Lappe)

KIRKUK REGIONAL AIR BASE, Iraq -- A member of the 506th Air Expeditionary Group at Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Iraq, received a once-in-a-lifetime phone call from the commander in chief Nov. 23.

Master Sgt. Stonnie Martin, 506th AEG contracting directorate, was one of only two Air Force personnel to get a Thanksgiving Day call from President George W. Bush.

During the conversation, the President asked how everything was going and asked about Sergeant Martin's health, referring to his bout with Leukemia and his return to duty. Sergeant Martin replied, "I couldn't be better, Mr. President."

President Bush told him to let everyone know, "that the President supports you and appreciates everything you do."

The call was short, but it left a strong impression on the Flint, Mich., native. "I feel good, I feel honored," he said after the interview. "I feel privileged to be the one to talk to the President, but I feel the call was for all of us deployed here. He asked how things were here at Kirkuk as well as asking about me."

Sergeant Martin said when he was notified at the end of October that he would be receiving the call, he thought it was a joke, a prank--he thought, "Why would the President want to call me?"

He said it really didn't sink in until the White House operator called a couple of weeks ago to ensure the line was working. Then, it sunk in - it was actually going to happen.

Sergeant Martin, deployed from the 354th Contracting Squadron, at Eielson, was nominated by Master Sgt. Scott Petrin. He said Sergeant Petrin told him he was putting him in for an award that was "right up his alley." Sergeant Martin had no idea what it was.

After his conversation with the President was over, the White House operator patched through a call to his mother, to let him wish her a Happy Thanksgiving.