December 27, 2013
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan - Sitting around a Christmas tree drinking hot cocoa and exchanging gifts with your loved ones is something the Lifeliners will not have the opportunity to do this year. Nevertheless, the holiday spirit is high as soldiers take the time to enjoy a Christmas meal alongside their comrades and spend some time with their families through Skype or Facetime.
A holiday meal was provided by the Koele Dinning Facility that is managed by Task Force Lifeliner. The cooks started prepping the meats three to four days in advance. With only 10 ovens and two steam kettles to cook it all, the personnel managed to create a meal fit for a king. The variety of food selections brought big smiles to the soldiers.
"This team that we have here is resilient. We have a great work ethic and are one big happy family," said Sgt. 1st Class Vicente D. Benitescruz, a native of Miami, Fla., and a contracting officer representative with Task Force Lifeliner. "The main thing that keeps me going during these holiday is simply knowing that we are providing a great service here and feeding so many smiling faces. When it comes down to it, I am very proud of the work that they do to feed over 10,000 coalition forces per day."
The soldiers really appreciate all the hard work and effort the Koele DFAC does during these special holidays.
"The decorations and food that they provide make you feel like you are really home for a bit," explained Staff Sgt. Jason W. Kolb, a native of Detroit, Mich., and a brigade legal noncommissioned officer in charge with Task Force Lifeliner. "The hard work they put in it is amazing. We are quite lucky to have such an amazing staff."
Food was not the only thing that brought enjoyment to the soldiers this day. Being able to communicate with family and friends back home was key in creating a festive day for soldiers.
"Technology like Facetime and Skype are wonderful ways to feel like you are with your family even though you are thousands of miles away," smiled Kolb. "I have been able to watch my daughter roll over and sit up via Facetime, my favorite though is to watch her smile."
Kolb added that he is looking forward to contacting his family members to wish them a Merry Christmas and hopefully see them opening up their gifts.
Soldiers rely on family, friends and a hardy meal to keep the morale up during the holidays, even if that meal comes from a military dining facility and that family and friend connection come through the screen on their computer.
Aside from being able to provide a great festive meal for the troops, Benitescruz added what keeps him going during the holidays is "Just knowing that once I get home I will arrive to my three gorgeous sons and soon to be born daughter in January."