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Bagram Airmen get call from AF top leader to ring in new year

Senior Airman Matthew Rice receives a phone call from Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, Dec. 31, 2013 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. The secretary called to wish deployed Airmen a happy new year and let them know the Air Force leadership team was thinking about them and their families. Rice is a native of Altus, Okla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ariel Hunsuckle)

Senior Airman Matthew Rice receives a phone call from Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, Dec. 31, 2013 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. The secretary called to wish deployed Airmen a happy new year and let them know the Air Force leadership team was thinking about them and their families. Rice is a native of Altus, Okla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ariel Hunsuckle)

Airman 1st Class Ashli Six receives a phone call from Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, Dec. 31, 2013 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. The secretary called to wish deployed Airmen a happy new year and let them know the Air Force leadership team was thinking about them and their families. Six is a native of Green, Ohio. (Courtesy Photo)

Airman 1st Class Ashli Six receives a phone call from Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, Dec. 31, 2013 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. The secretary called to wish deployed Airmen a happy new year and let them know the Air Force leadership team was thinking about them and their families. Six is a native of Green, Ohio. (Courtesy Photo)

Maj. Carla Lugo receives a phone call from Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, Dec. 31, 2013 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. The secretary called to wish deployed Airmen a happy new year and let them know the Air Force leadership team was thinking about them and their families. Lugo is a native of Flagstaff, Ariz. (Courtesy Photo)

Maj. Carla Lugo receives a phone call from Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, Dec. 31, 2013 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. The secretary called to wish deployed Airmen a happy new year and let them know the Air Force leadership team was thinking about them and their families. Lugo is a native of Flagstaff, Ariz. (Courtesy Photo)

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- Four 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Airmen received New Year's Eve phone calls from the Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James.

The secretary wished them a happy new year and wanted to let the Airmen know the Air Force leadership team was thinking of all the deployed Airmen and their families during the holidays.

Those who received the call included: Airman 1st Class Ashli Six, Senior Airman Matthew Rice, Technical Sergeant Derrick Ocasio, and Major Carla Lugo.

"I was honored," said Rice. "It really made me feel good as an Airman to know that the Secretary of the Air Force really cares about us here in Afghanistan." Rice is assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Finance Office and is a native of Altus, Okla.

"We discussed my job and morale on Bagram as well as my aspirations in pursuing a career as an officer and activities that I like to participate in my free time," said Six. Six is assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron and a native of Green, Ohio.

"It is nice to know that the Secretary of the Air Force took the time to contact me as well as others," said Lugo. Lugo is assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Aerial Port Squadron and is a native of Flagstaff, Ariz.

Calls to deployed Service members are a tradition for senior U.S. government officials. This season, a Bagram Airman received a call from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Thanksgiving Day and another Bagram Airman received a call on Christmas Day from President Barack Obama.

Eleven Airmen deployed to various locations received a call. This was the first holiday calls to deployed Airmen made by Secretary James since being sworn in as the Air Force's 23rd Secretary of the Air Force on Dec. 20, 2013.

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