THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Fort Polk, Louisiana)
PRESS BRIEFING BY DAVID JOHNSON DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY FOR NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL Fort Polk, Louisiana
6:05 P.M. CST
MR. JOHNSON: This will be mercifully short. I just wanted to tell you there was a small piece of the story today that was closed press that I wanted to give you a little readout on.
When the President concluded his ropeline and his greeting of the troops personally, he had a very brief meeting that lasted about 20 minutes with some families of personnel that are now deployed to Bosnia that are stationed at Fort Polk. There were about 20 people there, including several small children, a couple of them dressed in their -- or three or four of them dressed in their Easter finery.
The President had an opportunity to meet with them all individually and to shake their hands and to tell them how much he appreciated the sacrifice that they were making raising their families without the support of their spouse, except from a very long distance. And he very much appreciated how hard they worked in order to allow their spouse to be deployed in Bosnia and how much he appreciated that.
He told them -- I'll give you a quote if that's helpful for you -- "I am honored to be with all of you, and I thank you all for your service."
Q Were you there? Were you there, Dave?
MR. JOHNSON: Yes, I was there.
Q Was this in any way especially emotional?
MR. JOHNSON: I think that the President finds the -- especially since his meeting with families in Baumholder before the deployment to Tuzla -- finds it especially touching the sacrifices that military families make when their spouses are deployed abroad, and that it's always touched him to know that they are there whether it's in Germany or in Louisiana, standing by their families and helping to hold up their end of a marriage without a spouse at home. And he wanted to express that to them and to be very forthright about how much he appreciated it.
Also, one thing that I did leave out. He asked that all of the families that were there, if they wished to bring a package, and those were being taken back to Washington aboard Air Force One, those packages, for their spouses, and Mrs. Clinton will deliver them to Bosnia when she goes there in a few days.
Q How many? How many packages?
MR. JOHNSON: I believe there were a half a dozen.
MR. JOHNSON: We put out an announcement a day or so ago. I'll see if I can get that for you. I don't have the dates in my head.
Q It's later this week that she leaves --later this week.
Q On Saturday, the 23rd.
MR. JOHNSON: Thank you.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 6:10 P.M. CST