Troops celebrate Christmas in Afghanistan PDF Print E-mail
Written by Staff Sgt. Adora Medina 3rd BCT, 1st ID PAO   
Thursday, 01 January 2009

081225_A_5947M_031.jpgJALALABAD AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (December 26, 2008) – Spending the holidays in a war zone miles from home can be a challenge, but Task Force Duke Soldiers deployed to Afghanistan found a way to bring the Christmas spirit to Forward Operating Base Fenty.

To mark the beginning of the holiday season, a tree lighting ceremony was held in the base dining facility two days before Christmas, and as Christmas neared, many preparations took place to ensure a festive experience for the troops at FOB Fenty, right down to the holiday décor.

“It is by far the best decorating I've seen in my two combat tours, it was magical and reminded me of what the holidays are like back home,” said Staff Sgt. Mytsuko Diaz, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division Soldier, and El Paso, Texas native. “For a second I had to remind myself that I was still in Afghanistan.”

The decorations included a life-size nativity scene, numerous Christmas trees and ice sculptures. There was even a live Santa Clause who greeted troops as they left the holiday serving line with a traditional Christmas feast including turkey, ham, roast and all the trimmings.

“The traditional meal is important because it gives Soldiers something to talk about when it comes to their own traditional Christmas dinners,” said Cpt. Gennelle Lee, a 3rd BCT Soldier, and Detroit, Mich., native.

Lee explained how something as simple as a favorite Christmas dessert can spark conversation between Soldiers, and build camaraderie within the unit.

Officers and noncommissioned officers from TF Duke and TF Outfront volunteered to serve the troops as a way of boosting morale during the holiday season.

“I see good chow as a form of edible morale,” Lee said. “Soldiers eat it and feel good.”

Lee, who was one of the volunteers, enjoys serving chow for the most part because Soldiers really appreciate it and it gives her the chance to interact with the Troops.

“Sometimes I [serve chow] when it's not Christmas and sometimes I [serve] when chow is not extraordinary, it’s a good way to talk to Soldiers,” Lee said.

The Christmas luncheon continued on into Christmas dinner, to accommodate everyone’s schedules, so that all Soldiers could partake in the holiday chow while having the opportunity to attend company-level activities and Christmas services.

To give Soldiers from all walks of life a chance for reflection and prayer, several services were held on Christmas day. During an early morning service, a dance group called the Women of Praise, performed a choreographed dance for those in attendance.
 
 “I believe that we have reached people through dance that may not have gotten to know God any other way,” Sgt. 1st Class Yolanda Williams, Women of Praise dancer and St. Louis, Mo. native, said. “This just goes to show that even in time of war, dancing in Afghanistan is a great testament to the power of praise.”

As Christmas came to an end for Soldiers at FOB Fenty, the holiday season was just beginning for their families back home in the states. And as Soldiers phoned their loved ones to wish them a happy holiday they were able to share their holiday experience with their family.

“One of the big things about being out here is the morale issue. Everyone misses their family, everyone misses their kids, but being able to spend Christmas in a family-oriented environment like this is a great way to boost the morale,” said Sgt. Felix Rios, 4th finance Management Detachment Soldier, and Bronx, N.Y. native.

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