President Visits Wounded Soldiers
WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush made bedside visits to troops on Friday, continuing an annual pre-Christmas tradition of comforting soldiers that he began after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Bush and first lady Laura Bush traveled to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, visiting with 38 patients among those being treated there for injuries suffered in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Along the way, the president awarded 16 Purple Hearts.
Afterward, they were joining Girl Scouts from Maryland and Virginia and children of hospital staff to briefly wrap and sort presents that will be given to families and children of wounded military personnel on Christmas Day.
Later Friday, Bush was to head for Camp David, where he planned to remain with his family through Christmas.
New Defense Secretary Robert Gates, due back Friday night from a three-day Iraq trip, said he would report to the president over the weekend on what he learned during consultations there with military officials, troops and Iraqi leaders.
On the Net:
Walter Reed Army Medical Center: http://www.wramc.amedd.army.mil/