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First Lady Lands at 911th, Greets Moon-Area Military Personnel

Veterans meet with First Lady Michelle Obama.

Senior Airman Trisha Gresco of the 911th Airlift Wing said she was a little star-struck by her meeting today with Michelle Obama. 

"She was very friendly, nice, super sweet, warm," said Gresco, of Moon Township, after her encounter with the First Lady at the township's 911th Airlift Wing. 

Gresco, along with other local military personnel and their families, met Obama as she stepped off Air Force One after it touched down this afternoon at the 911th.  

Gresco said she didn't mention plans to close the 911th in 2013, but she said Obama spotted her 2-year-old daughter's bright-red T-shirt and its "Save the 911th" slogan. 

"I didn't say anything to her [about plans to shutter the base]," Gresco said. "But she said that she hopes it will remain open and that she's praying for us." 

Obama arrived shortly after 3:30 p.m. at the air base, where she shook hands with service members from the 911th and neighboring 171st Refueling Wing. 

On the runway, Obama also greeted the 911th's Senior Airman Domenic Mash of Aliquippa, his wife Katlyn and their infant daughter Savannah. In 2011, Mash received the Air Force Achievement Medal—awarded for outstanding achievement or meritorious service—following deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

The First Lady is scheduled to attend two Democratic National Committee fundraisers tonight in Pittsburgh. The White House said the visit to Western Pennsylvania also commemorates the one-year anniversary of Joining Forces, an initiative launched by Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, to recognize veterans and military families. Obama did not make any public remarks or take questions from reporters. 

Protestors who oppose the 911th's closure waited outside the base's gates on Defense Avenue, using traffic signs to drape and hold homemade banners asking President Obama to keep it open.

The Air Force announced plans to close the 911th in February as a part of a plan to cut $8.7 billion from its 2013 budget. The closure will eliminate each of the base's more than 1,100 military and 280 civilian positions. 

What do you think of Michelle Obama's arrival at the 911th? Tell us in the comments. 

L. Lee Bee April 18, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Nice to see a member of the Obama First Family in our area. And we even made sure there were sunny skies for the occasion (what's with all the sunshine in the 'Burgh this spring?)
Paul April 18, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Fundraiser photo op. All politicians will be in Pittsburgh this year asking for our vote. Let's see if it helps keep the wing open. With the government cutting the defense so much I wouldn't hold your breath.
steve April 18, 2012 at 03:12 PM
A lot of hot air. She has no influence on that air base. A waste of taxpayers money flying that plane up here.
Military Mom April 18, 2012 at 03:43 PM
This is truly exiting. It's a once and a lifetime opportunity to meet the first lady. What an honor to have her here in Moon Township.
Louisa April 18, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Maybe Michelle can go home and ask her husband why is he closing the 911th. The 911th is the only base in the entire country slated for closing. Other bases face reduced staffs, but not closings. Why does the Obama administration have an axe to grind against the west hills communities of Allegheny County? Save our airbase, and save the jobs and revenue it contributes to our local economy.
Louisa April 19, 2012 at 11:48 AM
Could Mrs. Obama help us out by asking her husband to keep our air force base open, instaed of using our airmen as a prop for her husband's reelection? The ONLY base slated for closing by the Obama administration is the 911th!
moon military mom April 19, 2012 at 10:33 PM
Photo op or not, it is worth pointing out that this is NOT an executive level decision. It's a decision that was made by the Air Force. Congress has the authority to intervene, possibly, but to say that the base is closing because of the Obama administration is factually incorrect.

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