Support our mission

EAGLE BASE, Bosnia and Herzegovina — The first Christmas call Spc. Jonquil Livingston received Tuesday came from her boss. Actually, every servicemember’s boss: Commander in Chief George W. Bush.

The soldier from the 351st Postal Unit out of Tallahassee, Fla., attached to the 336th Postal Detachment in Bosnia, took deep breaths to chase away the butterflies in her stomach as she waited for the president’s call.

Spc. Michael Russ from her unit said he has never seen his good friend of 10 years so nervous.

Two dozen fellow soldiers joined her in the office to listen in on the conversation.

Then, the phone rang. Everyone rushed toward it.

False alarm: It was only the president’s military staff making sure Livingston was waiting for the call.

While on hold, Livingston — who has been in the military for 15 years, five on active duty and 10 in the reserves — explained how she was selected to receive the phone call.

The daughter of a Vietnam veteran and the single mother of a 10-year-old boy, Livingston turned in her autobiography to her command after her first sergeant recommended she field the president’s call.

Livingston bases her military career on what her father did, she said. She is finishing her second rotation to Bosnia, and she has been on six-month deployments to Honduras and Haiti in the last 12 years.

During this deployment she has lost her father, one of two survivors from a platoon of soldiers on a reconnaissance mission in Vietnam, to leukemia.

When the command in Bosnia selected her, the choice came down to her and a soldier deployed to Kosovo.

Ten days before Christmas, Livingston was told to expect the phone call.

“I’m calling to wish you and all your fellow soldiers a merry Christmas,” the president said and then thanked Livingston for her service. “If you’ll do me a favor and tell everybody you see that the commander in chief called and wants to thank them as well.” Everyone in the room could hear the voice of President Bush over the speaker phone.

“I know it’s tough to be away from your family, your little son, but I want to thank you again for all you’ve done for America,” Bush said.

“Not a problem, sir. I do it with honor,” Livingston replied.

After the call, the soldiers gave Livingston loud applause. No one could hide the excitement.

“She’s met other presidents, but this is the first one that called her,” Russ said.

“It’s good to know that someone who sits in the White House appreciates that we’re away from our family for Christmas and lets us know that they care,” said Livingston, who later called her son, grandmother, aunt and a friend.


Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up