President Obama says it has been "the privilege of my life" to serve as the commander in chief of the US military. Obama and first lady Michelle Obama visited troops at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Oahu's Kaneohe Bay Sunday, marking the last time Obama will take part in his annual Christmas tradition as president, the AP reports. It was the first major outing for the president this Christmas. Obama said his gratitude to the military won't stop once his term ends, and his commitment to standing by the military "every step of the way" will continue. He noted that US. troops are serving on Christmas in dangerous places like Iraq and Afghanistan, with some engaged in missions against ISIS.
"As tough as it is to be deployed, the people here in America, back home, understand that every single day you serve, you're fighting for our freedom," the president said. Obama has made it a tradition to spend some time on Christmas at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, not far from the rented house that he and his family have made their winter home away from home. As he spoke, a few hundred troops sat around tables in uniforms, many with their families, in a mess hall hosting their Christmas meal. As he bid farewell to the troops, Obama ended on a lighter note, pointing out that it might not be his final goodbye. "I understand that I still have a little bit of rank as ex-president," he said. "So I still get to use the gym on base and, of course, the golf course." (Read more President Obama stories.)