In keeping with their holiday tradition, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama paid a visit to the U.S. Marine Corps Base in Kaneohe Bay on Christmas Day to express the nation’s gratitude to service members.

About 460 people — troops and their families attended the event.

White House press pool member Greg Jaffe of the The Washington Post provided the following report:

Speaking in the base’s cafeteria, Obama said the annual visit to Kanoehe was one of the first family’s favorite things to do, because “not only are we in Hawaii for Christmas but we are also able to say thank you on behalf of the American people.”

Barack Obama and Michelle Obama speak to U.S. service members on Christmas Day at Marine Corps Base in Kaneohe, Hawaii. Photo by Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

Barack Obama and Michelle Obama speak to U.S. service members Friday at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe.

Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

“So many families here are serving tirelessly,” he said. He added it’s not just service members but spouses and kids. The troops serving overseas are “missing birthdays and missing soccer games, making sacrifices, because we know when you are deployed overseas it is tough.”

Obama spoke briefly about the deaths of six U.S. airmen outside Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan earlier this week.

“Even though we have been able to reduce the number of folks who are deployed in places like Iraq and Afghanistan there are still folks over there every single day and it’s still dangerous as we saw this past week with the outstanding brave Americans who were killed,” Obama said.

“Whatever service you are in, whatever branch, we are extraordinarily grateful for everything you do every single day,” he said.

U.S. service members and their loved ones look on as President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama visit the Marine Corps Base in Kaneohe, Hawaii. Photo by Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

U.S. service members and their loved ones look on as President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama visit the Marine Corps Base in Kaneohe.

Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

Obama then said: “Michele and I are looking forward to taking pictures with all of you.” He noted a couple of new babies in the crowd, waiting for photos with their partents.

“We always get our baby fix,” he said.

Obama joked that he enjoyed working out in the mornings at the base during his vacation and said the only problem he had is “working out next to Marines in the gym” who are in better shape than him. He said they were motivation for him to do better when he comes back next year — a hint that he might return to Hawaii in the final weeks of his presidency.

U.S. service members and their loved ones look on as President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama visit the Marine Corps Base in Kaneohe, Hawaii. Photo by Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

A military family listens to the president’s address Friday.

Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

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