US President Barack Obama says it has been the "privilege of my life" to serve as US commander in chief and promised his continued gratitude and commitment to service members and their families during a Christmas Day visit to Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
"Although this will be my last time addressing you as president, I want you to know that as a citizen, my gratitude will remain, and our commitment to standing by you every step of the way, that won't stop," Obama told several hundred troops and their families gathered in a mess hall decorated with Christmas trees and wreaths.
"I just want all of you to know that it has been the privilege of my life to serve as your commander in chief," Obama said on Sunday.
For eight years, Barack Obama has led a military fighting in multiple theatres overseas, becoming the only president in US history to serve full two terms with the nation at war.
Obama said greeting service members and their families, some of whom held up mobile phones for photos as he spoke, was one of his favourite traditions.
He said that on the day before, he called people deployed overseas, telling them Americans back home understood they were fighting for freedom.
Though he declared the end of the US combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and drastically ramped down US involvement in those conflicts, about 8400 troops remain in Afghanistan and 5000 in Iraq.
He leaves office in January with the US military also fighting in Yemen, Syria, Somalia and Libya. The brutal civil war in Syria shows no signs of ebbing.
Obama, standing beside first lady Michelle Obama on a small platform, said when he leaves office in January, he will not be a stranger to those stationed in Hawaii, where he was born and still often spends vacations.
"We look forward to seeing you for many years to come, because I understand that I still have a little bit of rank as ex-president," Obama said to laughs.
"So I still get to use the gym on base and, of course, the golf course."