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CAMP BONIFAS, South Korea — Spc. Edmond Gaumond has had a pretty presidential year.

In February, he helped drive a vehicle in President Bush’s convoy when Bush visited U.S. soldiers in February along the Demilitarized Zone. He ended up shaking hands with Bush and posing for a photo.

And on Christmas Eve, Gaumond, 25, was one of nine lucky servicemembers around the world to receive a well-wishing call from the president.

“He just introduced himself as President Bush,” Gaumond said. “He wanted me to tell them he wishes everybody a merry Christmas and everybody is praying for us.”

Gaumond said he doesn’t know how he was selected to receive the call. The White House called the camp about three weeks before, he said.

Gaumond waited on hold about a half-hour before Bush got on the line. He really didn’t get a chance to ask any questions of the president.

But Gaumond said he was impressed that Bush called on him to spread his wishes among the troops.

After the phone call, the White House called back and gave Gaumond a free morale call. He called his mother in Colleen, Texas.

Gaumond told his mom he had just got a call from the president. His family initially doubted his story.

“They said the president of what?” Gaumond said. “I had to play the tape. I put it up to the speaker.”

Gaumond, who has been in the Army for six years, has been stationed in Korea since January and will be transferred to Fort Hood, Texas, soon.


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