Editor’s note: A previous version of the story said Mealnia went to Afghanistan as well, but that is not the case.
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (AP) — President Donald Trump is thanking U.S. troops in Afghanistan during a surprise visit to Bagram Air Field in his first trip to the site of America’s longest war.
He says he flew 8,331 miles to be there to tell them the U.S. has never been stronger. He says, “There is nowhere I’d rather celebrate Thanksgiving.”
Trump spoke to a crowd of about 1,500 troops gathered in a hangar on the base. He stood behind a podium surrounded by army green sandbags and flanked by military equipment.
Trump at one point invited Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to join him onstage. Ghani wished the troops a “Happy Thanksgiving” and commended Trump for his leadership.
Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians and more than 2,400 American service members have been killed since America’s longest war began 18 years ago.
The president and first lady made a similar trip last year to Iraq on Christmas night — their first to an active conflict zone.
Vice President Mike Pence also visited troops in Iraq this week.