FORT KNOX, Ky. – A brief countdown led by the commander, and a flip of the switch, began the holiday season in front of Fowler Hall at the 1st Theater Sustainment Command’s holiday tree lighting.
Soldiers, families, and civilian employees joined hosts, Maj. Gen. Michel M. Russell Sr., commander, 1st TSC, and Command Sgt. Maj. Albert E. Richardson Jr., senior enlisted advisor, 1st TSC, in kicking off the holiday season.
Each section presented their homemade ornament and placed it on the large tree. The G-4 section won the title for best ornament this year. Russell then took the opportunity to thank teammates.
“First, I’d like to thank the Soldiers and all the volunteers who helped make this event possible. Without you, this could not happen,” Russell said.
He then presented awards to several volunteers.
The commanding general thanked family members for their continued support and asked everyone to remember our teammates currently deployed and their families this holiday season and always.
“I’d like to invite all of children up to help me light this tree,” Russell said.
Some were dressed in holiday outfits, and most were awaiting another guest - Santa. They ran to Russell and began singing holiday songs together.
On cue with “Here Comes Santa Claus,” a decorated Jeep rolled in carrying Santa and Mrs. Claus. They joined Russell, Richardson, and all the First Team children.
Then Russell started the countdown. Three, two, one; together, with the kids, Santa, and Mrs. Claus, they flipped the switch and lit the tree.
While Soldiers and families introduced each other to colleagues, they were served soups, chili, chicken, appetizers, cheese, crackers, tons of desserts and hot drinks.
There was a hot cocoa station and a cookie decorating station, which many children visited. They also took pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus and the unit’s mascot, Staff Sgt. Blackjack - the live mule.
The drizzle didn’t dampen spirits and many families stayed throughout the evening. A large tent covered the food and heaters which kept the environment warm and dry. Kids ran around laughing, smiling, eating food, and drinking a lot of hot cocoa.
“My family and I had an outstanding time at the tree lighting event,” Master Sgt. Charles York said. He and his wife, Valerie brought their two young sons, ages two and one.
“Our boys, Greyson and Daxton actually took a picture with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and they always get a ‘kick’ out of seeing Blackjack,” York said.
Blackjack had a lot of visitors during his first duty call to the command since being promoted to the rank of staff sergeant by Russell last Fall during the 1st TSC’s organizational day. He had on a Santa hat and stood with his handlers as kids lined up to take a photo and pet him.
This family event kicked off the holiday season in December and brought together all the families in 1st TSC here at Fort Knox. As Russell reminded us, “Keep our deployed teammates and their families in our thoughts as we spend time with ours.” And “Happy holidays!”