Nov. 23 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump thanked military personnel stationed overseas, calling them "very, very special" people and said they're "winning" against the Islamic State in a holiday message Thursday.
"Hello, everybody, and happy Thanksgiving," the president said.
"It's an honor to speak with you all and to give God thanks for the blessings of freedom and for the heroes who really have this tremendous courage that you do to defend us and to defend freedom. So we want to thank you all very much. Very, very special people. It doesn't get more special."
Trump spoke about progress in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria in conflicts, including against the Islamic State.
"They say we've made more progress against ISIS than they did in years of the previous administration. And that's because I'm letting you do your job," Trump told Lt. Colonel Greg Warsh, stationed at an Air Force base in Turkey. "You're performing more than 1,000 missions over the skies of Iraq and Syria in the last four months. We're very, very proud of you. And believe me, everybody in this country is watching and they're seeing, and they're seeing positive reports for a change instead of the neutral and negative reports. It's all positive."
Regarding Afghanistan, he said that "everybody is talking about the progress you've made in the last few months since I opened it open. We opened it up. We said go ahead, we're going to fight to win. We're not fighting anymore to just walk around. We're fighting to win. And you people are really -- you've turned it around over the last three to four months like nobody has seen. And they are talking about it. So, thank you very much -- brave, incredible fighters."
Then, he spoke about Iraq.
"We're really winning. We know how to win, but we have to let you win," Trump said. "They weren't letting you win before; they we're letting you play even. We're letting you win."
President George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the battle there continued under President Barack Obama's administration until formally ending in December 2011. In June 2014, troops were again dispatched to Iraq to fight the so-called Islamic State.
Trump talked about tax reform with "big, fat, beautiful tax cuts."
"I know it's very hard to be away from home at this time of the year," he said. "We're doing well at home. The economy is doing really great. When you come back, you're going to see with the jobs and the companies coming back into our country and the stock market just hit a record high. Unemployment is the lowest it's been in 17 years. So you're fighting for something real, you're fighting for something good."
Trump ended with praise for military families.
"They put up with the time away and all of those things that they have to endure," he said. "And they endure it because they love our country and because they love you. And believe me, I know so much about military families. They respect and appreciate what you're doing for this country, and they respect and appreciate what you're doing for them, as a family. So your families love you and they miss you."
He even thanked the media. "And, by the way, media, Happy thanksgiving, I must say. Have a good Thanksgiving in Palm Beach, Florida. Thank you all for being here. I appreciate it."
Afterward, Trump visited the Coast Guard Station Lake Worth Inlet to serve food at a mess hall. "If you were looking at it as a brand," Trump said of the Coast Guard, "there's no brand that went up more than the Coast Guard, with what happened in Texas." Referencing Hurricane Harvey's impact on Texas, Trump lauded the group for having saved some 16,000 lives.
Trump also sent out a holiday message on Twitter.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING, your Country is starting to do really well. Jobs coming back, highest Stock Market EVER, Military getting really strong, we will build the WALL, V.A. taking care of our Vets, great Supreme Court Justice, RECORD CUT IN REGS, lowest unemployment in 17 years....!- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 23, 2017