Newly confirmed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta marked his first Fourth of July by making calls to troops serving abroad, the Defense Department said Monday.
Six forward-deployed U.S. service members began their Independence Day with telephone calls from Panetta, who reached out to convey his thanks and support for their service, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Doug Wilson said.
Panetta, who was sworn in as the nation's 23rd defense secretary on Friday, spoke by phone with service members deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq and Bahrain. The six individuals, representative of America's men and women in uniform who are away from their families, come from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Army National Guard.
Panetta told them how proud he was of their service and emphasized his commitment to fight for them and their families as they are fighting for their country, Wilson said. He told them he looks forward to meeting them during his travels as secretary.
The six who received the calls include four serving in Afghanistan: Army Spec. Darwin Siquig of Kahuku, Hawaii; Navy Yeoman 2nd Class Shain Frazier Jr. of San Diego; Air Force Technical Sgt. Frankie Lizcano of San Antonio; and Marine Cpl. Jay D'Amico of Surprise, Arizona.
Panetta also called Coast Guard Electrician's Mate 1st Class Brandon Frawley of the Coast Guard, who is serving in Bahrain. He and his family live in Newport, North Carolina.
Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Kelly Ann Pels, who is serving in Iraq, also received a call from Panetta. Pels is from Clermont County, Ohio.