Gatesville, Texas spreads holiday joy to deploying Soldiers
December 31, 2013
GATESVILLE, Texas - In typical Army fashion, the 120th Infantry Brigade planned and coordinated its winter holiday party to a T. Beginning months out with initial planning meetings, everything ran as close to perfect as possible.
To help execute the holiday festivities, the brigade teamed with its Gatesville community partner. In particular, Carla Manning, Military Affairs Chairman of the Gatesville Chamber of Commerce and Fort Hood Good Neighbor, along with Diana Fincher of First Baptist Church of Gatesville, were both at the forefront this holiday season.
The First Baptist Church's mission fit perfectly with the 120th's vision for the event.
Fincher said, "The specific ministry of the church is to work with deploying military units."
Training and and validating units mobilized for deployment, at any given time, the Brigade as a number of inbound units that they are training simultaneously, and training doesn't stop for holidays. Col. Timothy Bush, brigade commander, intended to provide a holiday celebration for those units under his control that will soon be down range in harm's way.
To make the event special, the group selected the Peacock River Ranch in Gatesville. Nestled away on a side street off one of the main drags in town, the venue is frequently the place of choice for weddings and special events.
All-in-all, the 120th and Gatesville community members catered to over 500 Soldiers: 60 Soldiers from the 1460th Trucking Company; 50 from Kosovo Force-18; 20 from the 35th Infantry Division; 140 from the 1742 Trucking Company; and the remainder were service members and their families of the 120th Infantry Brigade and it's subordinate battalions.
Gatesville business and religious community leaders and members provided the food. "The church ladies from around town did all of the deserts," said Fincher.
Community members also served all of the Soldiers a hearty plate of good ole' Texas barbecue as they went through the buffet line.
The Gatesville Intermediate, Junior and High School Choirs performed for the Soldiers and their families, as did the Gatesville Morning Song Choir.
Another pivotal aspect of the brigade commander's intent, was that no child was "left behind," or without a holiday gift. Parents made sure to bring gifts so that each child had the opportunity to chat with "Santa," (soon-to-retire 1st Sgt. Malcolm Stone of Headquarters Company) and receive a gift for good behavior.