Christmas on Deployment
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Kuwait-A private moment shared between a deployed father, Sgt. 1st Class Tim Marino, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 77th Combat Aviation Brigade, and his wife and 3-year old daughter just before Christmas Dec. 24.
(Photo by Army Sgt. 1st Cl... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army)
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Christmas on Deployment
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Kuwait-A private moment shared between a deployed father, Sgt. Maj. Carl Goss, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 77th Combat Aviation Brigade, and his daughter over video chat just before Christmas Dec. 24.
(Photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Suzann... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army)
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Christmas on Deployment
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KUWAIT -- The plywood floors and aluminum framing of the predictably tan tent, creek and moan in objection to the blustery, dust-choked winds outside.

The earthy smell in the air does little to mask the pungent aroma of glue emanating from the corner of the room, where a transformation is taking place. The once typical military office -- all brown, tan and beige -- is now besieged with the colors of Christmas.

Used care package boxes have been reappropriated to construct a chimney, complete with the look of brick and a mantel with several stockings hung. The scene is coming together.

Separated by more than 7,000 miles of land and ocean from loved ones and friends, the troops here are making Christmas happen for their diverse mix of brothers and sisters in arms, their Family away from Family in their home away from home.

A common complaint among them is that of missing the Christmas traditions of their families.

Sgt. 1st Class Deborah Wallace, Noel, Oklahoma, talks animatedly with her hands as she describes her family's tradition of making cookies. "Cookies, lots and lots of sugar cookies, we get together and decorate hundreds of cookies -- I really miss that," she said.

"Everyone in the office has found their Christmas spirit, we have gone all-out, and we even have a snowman costume," Wallace continued. "This is good for the Soldiers to get to decorate for the holiday; otherwise, it would make it (missing home) that much harder. At least this way they can feel a part of the season."

A cell phone screen lights a Soldiers face with more than illumination from the liquid crystal display, there is a child's face so close it fills the screen with big bright eyes and a missing tooth smile.

The little girl is exclaiming something important, "Daddy look! I got a reindeer, He's got a brown nose so he's Vixen…"

Sgt. 1st Class Tim Marino listens as his 3-year old daughter, Rylee, continues naming off Santa's reindeer, the smile never leaving his face.

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During a pause by Rylee a quiet whisper from the background coaches, 'Blitzen.' The sergeant's wife, Robyn, takes advantage of a distracted Rylee to have a private moment to explain what the children want. When asked what she wants for Christmas, Robyn answers simply, "Mommy wants Daddy to come home."

Looking in on a scene not so different from the last, except the little girl is blonde and five years older, the man is one of position and in charge for the welfare of many, including the family back home.

]With each passing second, the child is speaking a noticeable relaxing of his shoulders takes place. Sgt. Major Carl Goss, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, makes decisions all day long regarding his Soldiers, but right now, he is just Daddy to his two little girls.

This is a poignant moment to witness the arrow stiff Soldier, all straight lines and regulations, become all sweet words and soft lines in the palm of an 8-year old Macey's hand.

Goss thinks of his answer for about a tenth of a second, already knowing what he will miss most, "Christmas morning, when my girls unwrap their presents and I see their faces," he said. This year they will video chat, but he says it is not the same.

Goss remembers how hard communications was when he first joined and says he will gladly do the video chat versus waiting and waiting in line for a limited five-minute call.

The lead enlisted Soldier of HHC says the holidays can be a difficult time for some of his troops saying, "As a noncommissioned officer, Soldiers care is my primary concern. Every Soldier handles separation from family, holidays and deployments differently, so we have to be able to relate to them and check in on them."

Goss also shed light on why little things like a Christmas decorating contest are important for developing esprit de corps inside the organization, "When Soldiers get lonely it gives them something to hold on to," he said.

Soldiers deploy knowing there will be long days and hard work but there is plenty to do during their off time, the MWR and USO offer a variety of distractions like games, movies and events as well with places to unwind. There are barbecues and plenty physical fitness activities.

There is a time and a place that the Soldier is just Daddy or she is just Mommy. There is a family back home that does not stand and salute instead they hug, cuddle and wipe away tears.

We expect Soldiers to be strong and always on guard but during missions and deployments those private moments between spouses, father and child or a mom and her babe are fleeting at best but they leave a fire inside that drives us on.

Over the course of the U.S. Military's existence over 40 million men and women have served, many missing important events, and many missing Christmas.

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