Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Airman Gets Presidential Christmas Call

By Air Force Capt. Tristan Hinderliter
451st Air Expeditionary Wing

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Dec. 26, 2012 – "Hello, President Obama? ... I'm great, how are you?"

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force Senior Airman Keshia Shutts receives a Christmas morning phone call from President Barack Obama while deployed at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Dec. 25, 2012. Obama called Shutts to wish her a Merry Christmas and thank her for her service. They talked about her 3-year-old daughter and her upcoming wedding. U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Tristan Hinderliter

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
So began the most memorable phone call of a six-month deployment for Air Force Senior Airman Keshia Shutts with the 451st Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron here, who received a Christmas morning phone call from President Barack Obama.

The commander in chief thanked Shutts for her service and asked if she had been able to talk to her 3-year old daughter, Sienna, back home in Angola, Ind. He also asked if Shutts, who is engaged, had set a date for her wedding ceremony.

"September 1, 2013," she replied. "You're more than welcome to attend our wedding."

Shutts, originally from Montpelier, Ohio, is deployed from the Ohio Air National Guard’s 121st Logistics Readiness Squadron, based at Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus, Ohio.

She is nearing the end of a six-month deployment to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, where she has worked as an administrative assistant in the 451st ELRS command section for the last five months. She was nominated by her command to receive the call from the president in recognition of her outstanding performance.

"Airman Shutts conducts herself as a true quality airman," said Air Force Lt. Col. Manuel Perez, the 451st ELRS commander. "She demands perfection and professionalism and she really sets the example."

In addition to her official duties, Shutts volunteered at the Role 3 hospital, at the USO and as a victim advocate in the wing's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program. She also mentored 30 Afghan children at the Kandahar Bazaar School.

Volunteering at the hospital and working with the Afghan children have been two highlights of her deployment, Shutts said.

Since Shutts has been at KAF, she has also completed Airman Leadership School and is pursuing her second bachelor's degree, in nursing.

"For me, nominating her was a no-brainer," Perez said. "If I had to pick my No. 1 airman in the squadron it would be her."

Shutts, who has been selected for staff sergeant and will sew on her new chevrons next month, said it was an honor to be selected to receive the phone call from the president.

"It was awesome," she said of the call. "Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

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