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PHOTO OPS: Brundidge native has Christmas encounter with president

Brundidge native Lieutenant Colonel Letitia Bryant and her children were among 300 service members and their families who were selected to meet President Barak Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama on Christmas Day at Kaneohe Marine Corps Base in Hawaii. Pictured are President Obama, Lieutenant Colonel Letitia Bryant, Kendall Bryant, Kaelan Bryant and First Lady Michelle Obama. Inset below, Major Letitia Bryant with President Obama at Pentagon in January 2009. Photos courtesy White House Press Office.

Brundidge native Lieutenant Colonel Letitia Bryant and her children were among 300 service members and their families who were selected to meet President Barak Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama on Christmas Day at Kaneohe Marine Corps Base in Hawaii. Pictured are President Obama, Lieutenant Colonel Letitia Bryant, Kendall Bryant, Kaelan Bryant and First Lady Michelle Obama. Inset below, Major Letitia Bryant with President Obama at Pentagon in January 2009. Photos courtesy White House Press Office.

Christmas Day is always a special day for United States Army Lieutenant Colonel Letitia Felton Bryant and her family. But Christmas Day 2016 was special in yet another way for Brundidge native Bryant and her children, Kendall and Kaelan. The family had a close encounter with President Barak Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

The Bryants were among the 300 service members and their families who had the opportunity to meet the President and First Lady at Kaneohe Marine Corps Base in Hawaii.

Bryant said each year the First Family takes time out of their holiday vacation to express their appreciation to a select group of military families for their service.

For Bryant, this was her second opportunity to meet and shake hands with President Obama.

“The first time I met the President was in 2009 when I was stationed at the Pentagon and was one of a select few military members to shake the President’s hand during his first visit,” Bryant said.

Bryant wanted this one-on-one moment with the President and First Lady to go according to protocol so she said no to Kendall’s plan to “dap him up.”

Bryant was not going to let her son’s millennial tendencies make the moment too casual by allowing him to use hand and arm gestures he would use with his college roommate with the President of the United States.

But, to Bryant’s surprise and perhaps her son’s as well, President Obama greeted the 6-foot-five Alabama A&M junior with “What’s up big fella?” and dapped him up.

That’s a story the “big fella” will be telling for years to come.

The First Lady was as personable as her husband. She advised Kaelan, a 13-year-old eighth grader at Aliamanu Middle School, to study hard and get her education.

But that was not the first time Kaelan had been so advised.

Her mom, a graduate of Pike County High School in Brundidge, had passed those words of advice along often. Those same words have been the mandates of her education and her career and have provided her with two opportunities to shake hands with the President of the United States, something only one in 5,000 people have the privilege to do.

Bryant was always a hard worker and was always prepared for the tasks and challenges before her.

When she was a student at PCHS, Bryant had given no thought to the military. However, as a junior, she accepted the invitation of Major Harry Potts, JROTC senior Army instructor, to hear a ROTC scholarship brief.  As a senior, Bryant was awarded an Army ROTC scholarship to Tuskegee University without incurring fees for tuition, room and board or books.

She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in marketing in 1994 and was summarily commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army. Her career has included deployments to Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait.

Bryant said growing up she never dreamed she would be in the military.

“But, for an unexpected journey, it has truly been a rewarding one,” she said. “It has afforded me many awesome experiences, but none more incredible than the opportunity to lead and serve with the most selfless and professional men and women of our Armed Forces and having the privilege of meeting our Commander-in-Chief—twice.”

Bryant said the success that she has enjoyed is due to her faith in God and the support of her family and friends.

She is currently serving her second tour to Fort Shafter, Hawaii, where she is the Human Resources Policy Division Chief for the United States Army Pacific Command.

Bryant is the daughter of Willie and Lola Felton of Brundidge.