December 25th, 2009
11:03 AM ET
4 years ago

Obama makes Christmas call to sailor

The First Family arrives in Hawaii on Thursday.

The First Family arrives in Hawaii on Thursday.

HONOLULU, Hawaii (CNN) - U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman First Class Francis Nicola received a unique Christmas gift Thursday: a phone call from his commander-in-chief.

President Barack Obama called Nicola, currently deployed in the Arabian Gulf, to extend a personal holiday greeting, according to a Navy spokesman.

Nicola has served on the guided-missile frigate USS Rentz for one year. The Rentz is on an extended eight-month deployment, Public Affairs Officer Corey Barker noted in a statement.

"It was a great honor," Nicola said. "The president passed his personal thanks to me and to the crew for our service over the holidays."

Obama "started the conversation off asking about my wife and my son Anthony," he added. "He then went on to express his thoughts on being deployed away from them during the holiday period and hoped for my safe return to them in the coming months."

The president's decision to call Nicola was the result of a submission by Nicola's commanding officer.

"Petty Officer Nicola's performance has been nothing short of flawless," said Cmdr. Jeff Miller, the Rentz's commanding officer. "He quickly earned my trust (and) confidence."

Nicola said he invited Obama "for a day of burgers and basketball on the pier in San Diego," the Rentz's home port. Obama said he "would try to take us up on that offer," Nicola noted.

Nicola, who previously served on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, is the senior medical representative for over 220 crewmembers on the Rentz, Barker said. His duties include routine patient care and trauma response.

Presidents have traditionally called members of the military during the holiday season. Obama told reporters Thursday that he was planning to call "a few" service members this year "and wish them merry Christmas and to thank them for their extraordinary service."

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Perusing-through


    You have earned a well deserved vacation. Go ahead, extend your vacation days. Kick back and thank GOD for the many good things that have prevailed since you took office on 20-JAN-2009.

    We love you Mr. President, and our prayers are for you, your family, and your magnificent success.

    December 25, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  2. S M R

    Thank You SO much for making a difference in the lives of the Average American. My Family would like to wish Your Family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. P.S. Stay 2 weeks, you deserve it. SURFS UP!!!

    December 25, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  3. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    OK, Party of NO, what's wrong with this gesture (I'm sure that there is something).
    Go ahead, explain how the President is unpatriotic/communist/socialist/illegal alien... After all, it's Christmas.

    December 25, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  4. Moe Jalali

    It is "Persian Gulf" and no other bogus name. Historical and official – by world bodies – geographic names cannot be called differently for personal likes, political beliefs, or monetary gains. CNN is responsible for these mistakes and has to review content prior to release.

    December 25, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  5. NC

    this socialist elitist better enjoy the next three Christmases in Our White House, because he won't be re-elected. he has no idea how the average
    American is feeling. The American People have seen how unqualified this guy really is. We need to vote for REAL CHANGE, so that we can get OUR AMERICA back. Vote Republican in 2010 and 2012.

    December 25, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  6. S Callahan- This is the 4th Week of Advent, light the candle for LOVE

    Great work PO Nicola....and what a compliment to have your Commander in Chief acknowledge that! Merry Christmas everyone!

    December 25, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  7. carlos

    Happy Holidays to MY real Commander in Chief and the Obama Family

    December 25, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  8. TampaHi44

    Many blessings to you, Dear President, and your family. I am so proud of you and that, at the age of 82, I had the privilege of campaigning for you.
    Much success in the future. And, God Bless you all.
    Napans for Obama Virginia

    December 25, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  9. carlos

    Happy, Safe and Blessed Holidays for our extraordinary and brave members of the US Armed Forces.....God be with You!!!!! HEROES

    December 25, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  10. Michael from Ventura

    Thank you Mr. President for putting actions to your words! What a refreshing CHANGE this is. Merry Christmas to you, Michelle, Malika and Sasha!

    December 25, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  11. American Airman

    Wow, a phone call? Seriously, that is the best that you can do? When you have hundreds of thousands of troops on the front lines and manning the home stations, working on Christmas while you jet off on another vacation, this one to a place most Americans will never have the opportunity to visit, you can't even take the time to go and visit some of these service members?

    You are an absolutely pathetic Commander in Chief. This is further proof that you don't know how to lead a military or a nation. You are a disgrace to the Presidency, the military, and the United States.

    How have you earned a vacation? What have you actually done besides read speeches off of a teleprompter every five minutes while your egotistical narcissistic butt does another television appearance.

    You, Mr. President, are no Commander in Chief, you are a Liar in Chief and a Commander in Chief. The only thing worse than you is the pathetic Obamabots that thing you are helping them and continue to praise your worthless self.

    Do us all a favor and resign so that our nation can begin healing.

    December 25, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  12. Mlhall

    May God keep you and Your family safe and in his loving hands. Have a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. 2012

    December 25, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  13. sharon

    Good grief George get a life and I'm saying that nicely. The Pres. deserve to celebrate Christmas just like everyone else. Wishing you & everyone on this blog a Merry Christmas and a Happy New.

    December 25, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  14. Robin


    December 25, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  15. Leeann

    Mr. Obama loves using the word "extraordinary". It's getting old.

    December 25, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  16. Tammy in Arizona

    Great idea....It must have been such a suprise to Nicola!
    Sounds like he deserved the recognition.
    In less then a year the country is turning around for the better thanks to people like Obama and Nicola.

    December 25, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  17. strong

    Awww, gee whiz. Let's all get mushy and start gushing .... just because Barack made a phone call to someone.

    A big whoop ...

    December 25, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  18. Chris

    I am waiting for the first right wing wacko to bash the President for this nice gesture.

    December 25, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  19. AP in Illinois

    Just waiting for the Right Wing hate machine to twist this into something sinister or patronizing or socialist.

    December 25, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  20. victim of the false prophet OBAMA

    this guy is nothing more than a con artist, with a HUGE ego.

    December 25, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  21. unemployed by Obama

    Obama what gives you the right to go on vacation while unemployment is at 10% and people cant celebrate because you have spent all our tax dollars. Obama you are the biggest waste and worse president this country has seen. You are nothing but a photo op living on the money of all Americans, you are as bad as the welfare people on the corner who lie about working and collect all the freebies. No Christmas for some of us and you go on vacation, Obama you are a lier who said I wont rest to all who want to work are working, Obama you are a LIER. Obama is a crook and LIER. My Christmas president will be voting you out after one term, You are the welfare president.

    December 25, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  22. Irma in North Carolina

    The party of No will be going home and pouting all of their vaction that they couldnt get the health reform bill to fail.

    December 25, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  23. Virginia

    There is a lot to be thankful for this Christmas!! Mainly because you are now our President!!!!!!

    You are turning this country around, and none too soon for me. Bless you and your wonderful family.

    Relax a bit then come back refreshed so you can continue the battle with the party of NO. They are so pathetic and should give back their salaries – they don't desire a dime for what they are trying to do!!

    God bless you and your family.

    Happy New Year!!!!! and many more-

    December 25, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  24. Fitz in Texas

    George Guadiane – Austerlitz, NY December 25th, 2009 11:37 am ET

    OK, Party of NO, what's wrong with this gesture (I'm sure that there is something).
    Go ahead, explain how the President is unpatriotic/communist/socialist/illegal alien... After all, it's Christmas.
    Ok, I'll bite since you asked......not listening to the man Obama put in charge of this war, General McCrystal, and not sending the troops General McCrystal requested. This seems somewhat "unpatriotic" to me because it puts the lives of our military in more danger by not getting them the help they need and requested. Not to mention how Obama ignored General McCrystal for months until Obama was embarrassed into speaking to McCrystal after a 60 Minutes interviewed in which McChrystal stated he hadn't spoken with the President since the President took office. And as far as "communist/socialist". Until you take off those rose colored glasses and start waking up there's no need to go any further with your request of explanation.......Yes, it is Christmas so Merry Christmas!

    December 25, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  25. joshua

    I am pretty sure we will have the Republicans here soon enough finding something wrong with this. What this time, he is using tax payer dollars to go on vacation for Christmas? You guys really need to get a life. Attack his policies, fine. But not every little thing the man does in his personal life just because you don't like the guy.

    December 25, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
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