Ike on Bush's mind during state visit

Friday, September 12th 2008, 7:48 pm
By: News 9

By Jennifer Pierce, NEWS 9

NORMAN, Okla. -- The president thanked Oklahomans for helping Ike evacuees during a trip to the metro Friday morning.

Air Force One landed at Tinker Air Force Base just before 9 a.m. The purpose of the trip was to honor volunteers, raise money and discuss health care.

This is the president's third time to land at Tinker, the first time to attend an Oklahoma City bombing anniversary, the second was to hold a ceremony honoring Oklahomans.

Karen Stark, the founder of ‘The Hugs Project,' was one volunteer who received a Presidential thank you for her work. She has provided over half a million cool ties and care packages to troops overseas.

"I admire the president, so that was probably the thrill of a lifetime," Stark said.

Major Dan Rooney was also honored by President Bush for helping military families. Major Rooney is in the Air Force National Guard and is being deployed on Monday.

"It was such an honor to meet him and shake his hand, and I was very struck by what a calm and unassuming, easy guy to talk to," Major Rooney said.

The President also expressed concern over Hurricane Ike. He thanked Oklahomans in advance for taking in evacuees and for their work during other hurricanes.

Captain Joe Castleberry just returned from Louisiana to meet the President.

"From seeing the plane come in, to seeing him walk down the stairs and shaking his hand, talking to him...unbelievable," said Capt. Castleberry of the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Department.

The trip wouldn't have been complete without a presidential goodbye. A large crowd of military personnel and civilians shook hands and took pictures as President Bush made his way back onto Air Force One.

While the trip was only four hours, President Bush's visit will leave a lasting impression for these Oklahomans.