CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq - More than 300 Soldiers gathered here to observe a tree lighting ceremony Dec. 8.

The 27th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Rough Rider Soldiers kicked-off the holiday event outside the headquarters building with Pvt. Victoria Moore, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 27th BSB, leading Christmas carolers in song under the unit's Christmas tree.

"It was very motivating and uplifting," said Staff Sgt. Donnel Cabanos, a Rough Rider non-commissioned officer from the Philippines.

Lt. Col. Mark Simerly, commander of the Rough Rider Battalion, joined his Soldiers for holiday cheer and said he was very proud of everything the battalion has accomplished since their arrival to southern Iraq in June. The Rough Rider commander also expressed his appreciation to those responsible for organizing the event and bringing the Christmas spirit to his troops.

"The ceremony was great," said Spc. Kurt Grohman, who hails from Wilmington, NC. "It reminded me of home when they turned on the lights and had Santa Claus come out (to) light the tree. I appreciate them doing all that for us."

Santa Claus, played by Spc. Thaddeus Dumchiskoi, joined the troops under the lit Christmas tree, which hung above the Rough Rider Headquarters entrance. The Christmas carolers sang; Santa came out and flipped a switch; and lights created a magnificent flicker that could be seen for miles.

"This was impressive, and I really enjoyed the food and fellowship," said Sgt. 1st Class Freddie Davis, who shared the holiday event with his wife, Sgt. Jill Davis. This was the first U.S. Army-tree lighting ceremony for the couple, and thanks to the Rough Rider Soldiers, Freddie and Jill said this is something they will never forget.

With the newfound Christmas glow of the holiday lights, Soldiers shared food, fun and pictures with Saint Nick.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16