FORT BENNING, Ga. (Dec. 10, 2018) - Families from across Fort Benning and the Chattahoochee Valley community gathered for a Benning holiday tradition Dec. 8 on Eubanks Field here.

The main event was Maj. Gen. Gary M. Brito, commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning, and Santa Claus, legendary toy deliverer of Christmas from the North Pole, flipping a switch to light the 250-foot Airborne tower.

"Thank you for everything you do every day," Brito said to the crowd. "We have a great installation, great troops, and it couldn't be any better."

Santa did not arrive on a sleigh but arrived instead by parachuting onto the field from the mostly overcast sky above and then taking a fire engine to his chair where he greeted children and their Families, took photos, and listened to the children's Christmas wishes.

Attendees also got to see firsthand Bradley and Stryker military vehicles, HMMWVs, and an ambulance as well as the fire engine that brought Santa to the site. Personnel from the U.S. Army Pathfinder School demonstrated their capabilities shortly before landing a UH-60 and a UH-60M helicopter for a static display of both those aircrafts. Personnel from the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade held a combatives demonstration and a holiday-themed military working dog demonstration by the 904th Military Working Dog Detachment.

Hot chocolate and food were served on site, and children were able to jump from the 34-foot towers on Eubanks Field.

The event was accompanied by the holiday melodies played by the Maneuver Center of Excellence Band.

Staff Sgt. Benjamin Biddle, 198th Infantry Brigade, his spouse Jamie and sons Leif, 5, and Kiernan, 3, explored the helicopters and visited Santa. The Biddles live across the Chattahoochee River in Fort Mitchell, Alabama, and Biddle works on Sand Hill on post. He appreciated the event for being on post and being free of charge.

"It's not a big event, but at the same time it's not an over-extravagant budget thing," he said. "Acts like the combatives, like the dog show - things like that - show a different side of how we do things."

In celebration of the holiday spirit, Fort Benning also held a Christmas tree and menorah lighting at the MCoE commander's historic Riverside home Dec. 6. There was also a Trees for Troops on Wetherby Field Dec. 7.

In addition to the above on-post community events, the MCoE Band is playing at the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts in Columbus, Georgia, Dec. 15 from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

To learn more about these events, visit www.benning.army.mil/MCoE/PAO/newsreleases/2018/FortBenningHolidaysSavetheDate2018.pdf.

To see more photos from the 250-foot tower lighting, visit www.fortbenningphotos.com/Ceremonies-and-Events/Off-Post-Events/2018-Events/2018-12-07-MCoE-Tower-Lighting-Ceremony.