LANDSTUHL REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, Germany — The Commander in Chief focused his attention on Wounded Warriors during a June 5 visit to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
President Barack Obama paid bedside visits with U.S. and coalition servicemembers as well as joining an enthusiastic crowd of outpatients at the USO Warrior Center. Along the way he pinned on six Purple Hearts honoring servicemembers injured in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Among those in the packed Warrior Center was Private 1st Class Dean Baker, an 18-year-old injured in an IED blast while deployed to Iraq with the 161st Infantry Brigade. His reaction to meeting the President Obama echoed those of many.
"It was really cool to be just to be in the presence of a leader like that," said Baker. "People started walking in (to the Warrior Center) and I'm like, 'Oh my God, it's the president.' You're never going to get that chance again unless you're really lucky."
Baker, a native of Vancouver, Wash., said it was an honor just to be in the presence of such a powerful man, especially on an occasion where the president came to honor those who were injured in the service of their country.
Leading the president during his visit to an in-patient ward was 1st Lt. Danielle Schaaf, an Army nurse who said his impact on the Wounded Warriors was visibly noticeable.
"He was so kind to all the Soldiers and so sincere, and really took their stories and what they were saying personally," Schaaf said. "It really meant a lot to the Soldiers. You could just tell on their faces they were very impressed. He was happy to see them and they were happy to see him."
The 24-year-old nurse said she shared those feeling at the chance of meeting and escorting the Commander in Chief. "It was an honor. It was a complete honor to see him. He welcomed the staff and was so happy to see everyone. It was incredible."
Also in attendance at the Warrior Center was Lance Corporal Casey Nowlin, a Marine who sustained injuries during an IED blast in Iraq and is currently receiving treatment at LRMC while staying at the nearby Medical Transient Detachment. The 19-year-old Marine, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, also remarked on the privilege of meeting the Commander in Chief.
"It was intense meeting him," said the Tucson, Ariz., native. "I didn't realize he was that tall, "he said with a laugh. "He was very kind spoken and it was nice meeting him. It was definitely a spirit uplifting event. Although I wasn't in the Intensive Care Unit area, I bet it would have definitely had a huge effect on their morale. But I know it's also important to my fellow Marines, Airmen, Soldiers and Sailors that he was here. It was definitely an experience you would never forget."