Sunday, December 28, 2008

Pound, Wisconsin-native receives Christmas call from President Bush

Story by Lance Cpl. Brian D. Jones

CAMP BARBER, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – How special would you feel if you received a phone call from U.S. President and Commander in Chief George W. Bush on Christmas Eve, while serving in Afghanistan?

Just three days before her 21st birthday, Cpl. Louise M. Nowak, a combat engineer with Combat Logistics Battalion 3, the logistics combat element of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan, was informed President Bush was waiting on the phone to speak with her.

According to Nowak, it was just like any other day in Afghanistan when someone came up to her and said, “Did you know you are going to be talking to the president?”
Nowak replied, “What? Really!”

Close to 4 p.m., fellow Marine Lance Cpl. Antonio J. Paul was making his way to tell Nowak to report to the command operations center for the phone call.

“I was on my way to tell her, and I was like wow! I wish I could talk to the president, but she is a good-to-go Marine and she deserved it,” Paul said.

Nowak hurried her way to the COC to answer the call.

“I was really excited,” said Nowak. “My heart just started beating really fast. It was a great honor.”

Nowak described the phone call as kind of comical from her point of view, because of the long delay on the secured phone lines. When the commander in chief first spoke to her, she heard him ask, “Is this Cpl. Louise Nowak?” Nowak excitedly waited-out the delay and answered, “Yes sir, can you hear me?” They agreed the phone lines were working well enough.

“We talked a little bit about being over here, and he asked how long I had been over here and I told him it’s been two months now,” Nowak said. “I told him I was very, very honored to be over here, and that I was really happy because it means a lot to me that we are over here helping this country out.”

Bush assured her the troops are doing great things for the people of Afghanistan and even more for the overall security situation of the world.

“He tasked me with one thing and that was to tell everybody God bless and Merry Christmas,” Nowak said with a proud smile.
The conversation only ran about three to four minutes in length, but it was the significance of who was on the phone that made it so special for the Pound, Wis.-native.

Nowak was one of a select few forward-deployed U.S. service members chosen to receive the traditional presidential Christmas Day phone call.

“She was picked based on a couple of reasons,” said Sgt. Maj. Danny Duvall, the battalion sergeant major for CLB-3. “She is an overall good Marine. She is hard working and very mature. It’s the little things that she has done that made her an easy choice.”

Nowak first deployed to Al Asad, Iraq, from Aug. 19, 2007, through March 15, 2008, before voluntarily deploying to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on Nov. 5, 2008. In Iraq, she worked directly with infantry Marines building bunkers and providing other construction support. She also participated in the ‘Lioness Program’ for a month and a half, assisting with the security screening of Iraqi women.

“It’s all been a great experience,” said Nowak.
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