If Evelyn Scranton, a specialist in the U.S. Army Reserve from Wichita serving in Afghanistan, was surprised to be called into an assembly at Bagram Air Force Base, she was shocked to see President Obama.
And she was absolutely thrilled when he reached out and shook her hand.
Obama made a lightning four-hour unannounced visit to Afghanistan on Sunday to mark Memorial Day with the troops as the war winds down for U.S. combat operations.
Inside the base’s giant hangar, Obama told the raucous audience of about 3,000 U.S. troops that the American public “stands in awe of you,” grateful for their service and united in support of veterans as they return home, according to press accounts.
Scranton told her sister Rhonda Gallardo about the visit afterwards.
“We talk every day,” Gallardo said. “And yesterday she said, ‘Oh, by the way, I met the president.’
“I said, ‘What?’ I thought she was kidding,” Gallardo said.
It was a pretty brief encounter for Scranton, not more than a few seconds of conversation, and then Obama moved on to the next service member.
But it must have left an impression. Gallardo said her sister remembered Obama as kind and much more handsome in person than on television.
Scranton’s Facebook post about the event is a little vague – the visit had to be kept a secret until the president was gone – but it reads: “What a memorial night, this is one for the books.”