Lt. Col. Michael Hatfield, commander, 49th Missile Defense Battalion, talks to the battalion's Soldiers and their family members during their holiday party.

FORT GREELY, Alaska -- While the Soldiers of the 49th Missile Defense Battalion do not deploy to Afghanistan or Iraq, they do conduct their go-to-war mission every day. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week they constantly defend the homeland from ballistic missile attack. That means a lot of shift work and a lot of missed holidays.

To show appreciation to those hard-working Soldiers, and spread a little holiday cheer, there has been a tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas on the Missile Defense Complex with the on-duty Soldiers. Families bring food in and celebrate the holiday meal at work, with their Soldiers when they cannot make it home.

"It was a great family event. We appreciated the hard work of the Family Readiness Group pulling resources together. It is a fantastic opportunity to bring family and Soldiers together," said Lt. Col. Michael Hatfield, commander, 49th Missile Defense Battalion. "There was a great sense of community and holiday spirit."

In addition to Hatfield, Lt. Gen. David Mann, commanding general, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, along with Col. Ted Hildreth, commander, 100th Missile Defense Brigade, were on hand to celebrate the holiday with the Soldiers.

The Family Readiness Group was a big part of the success. They utilized social media to get the word out and obtain volunteers for meal items. When something was missing, a call out was made out and someone quickly filled the missing items.

"Turnout was great, nearly twice what it was for Thanksgiving," said Chelsea Fulmer, wife of 1st Lt. Kevin Fulmer. "It's important to have the opportunity for Soldiers and family members to see each other for a little while during this important holiday. It's also important to celebrate Christmas with those who are away from their family. Christmas cheer is infectious!"

While it may have only been for a short time, it was well received.

"I really appreciated being able to pass a little time with my wife and daughter on Christmas," said Spc. Joseph Arocho. "I spent a year deployed to Kosovo and didn't see my family that entire year."

Not only did this provide some time for the families to see their loved ones, it also provided time for the commanders to interact with families members.

Page last updated Wed January 8th, 2014 at 14:59