Deployed Australians still full of holiday cheer
December 10, 2010
The Christmas tree is topped with an angel, wrapped with sparkly garland and decorated with cheerful, bright ornaments but Cpl. Chloe Jakob, an administration clerk and part-time Christmas tree decorator, isn't home in Australia but deployed to Multi National Base Tarin Kot, Afghanistan.
For Jakob, who works in the Mentoring Task Force 2 orderly room, the fact that she's 7,000 miles away from Australia hasn't dampened her enjoyment of the holiday season and having Christmas decorations up in the office helps to keep her morale high while separated from her fiancAfA and family.
"I'm still loving Christmas here. It's definitely important to experience the holidays even though you're away," said Jakob, a four year Army veteran from Grafton, New South Wales. "We found all the Christmas decorations next door and went a little nuts decorating. It's always the first thing people notice when they walk in - they're either teasing us or they're liking it."
While the security and mentorship mission remains the priority of all Coalition personnel, the holiday spirit has become progressively more evident in the halls and offices around the base.
"You are still acknowledging the celebration and you can get excited with your family, because we put up our Christmas tree at a similar time that our families put up theirs," said Cpl. Linda Daniels, an administration clerk in same office from Brisbane.
Another important aspect for bridging the distance between deployed troops and their families is the yearly barrage of holiday cards and presents. It's a monumental undertaking that requires a lot of hard work and dedication from the mail clerks and cargo handlers.
"Christmas is a time when no one wants to be away for work. For moms and dads with kids, being away for Christmas, it's tough. Mail is important," said Sgt. John Van De Maele, Postal Manager for Multi National Base Tarin Kot.
Van De Maele said that the MNBTK post office would receive more than six tons of mail over the next week and send back out more than a ton.
"With all the modern technology we've got these days with e-mail, phones, it's nice to have a personal touch from home. I think mail itself is one way they can connect to home," said Van De Maele, an 11 year Army veteran from Sydney, Australia. "For the guys out at the patrol bases that don't have access to the same amenities we do at TK having physical mail in their hands and being able to post it back is great."
More than 1,500 Australian service members are serving in Afghanistan this holiday season.