By Staff Sgt. Alexander Burnett, 7th Sustainment BrigadeDecember 27, 2011
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Dec. 27, 2011) -- It was days before Christmas and the trucks were all fueled. The gifts were neatly organized in their containers, loaded to a vehicle and labeled according to the lists. The season spirit was ready to go out into Afghanistan.
The Soldiers of Task Force Resolute partnered with the United Service Organization to deliver holiday gift packages to Soldiers in the southern region of Afghanistan with Operation Christmas Convoy, Dec. 20-26.
Coordination between the USO and TF-Resolute began in early December, when Sgt. Maj. Marco Leslie and Sgt. Mark Williams, the TF-Resolute operations sergeant major and daytime battle noncommissioned officer, respectively, began planning with the USO how to bring holiday gifts to the most remote outposts in southern Afghanistan. Williams coordinated with the 1297th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and TF-Resolute primary security detail to get these gifts on their convoys. Leslie gathered a list of units that needed the gifts and timelines for them to pick up their holiday bundles, said Leslie.
"Our biggest challenge was getting the Soldiers from remote locations in our region to have adequate time and resources to pick up their holiday boxes," said Leslie. "It took us a few weeks, but we got it down by getting the gifts on convoys and even airlifting some of them by helicopter."
The mission's primary purpose was to supply Soldiers at remote patrol bases and operating bases with items to improve the Soldiers quality of life and spread some holiday cheer this holiday season. The USO requested the help of TF-Resolute and its subordinate battalions in distributing containers filled with donated gifts. Each convoy traversed difficult terrain and ever present danger to ensure the care packages reached their destination.
"These Soldiers are doing a great thing to help out their fellow troops," said Priya Butler the USO director of operations for Southwest Asia. "Because of their hard work and determination, we got out to fifty-eight different bases and outposts, last year we only made it to sixteen."
The units on each base visited received two cardboard shipping containers filled with donated gifts. One box held a unit oriented holiday package including a Christmas tree, holiday decorations, a 32-inch flat screen television, a hard-drive full of movies, cell phones with minutes to call home on Christmas, an XBOX 360 video game console and a copy of the popular first-person-shooter video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
The other container held individual gift bags, donated and packaged by the New York Yankees baseball team, said Butler.
"It is so awesome that they brought all these things out to us especially since we do not have access to this kind of equipment," said Spc. Francisco Musa, a Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 1st Battalion, 10th Cavalry Regiment supply specialist. "These game systems and movies help us relax a little bit and take our minds off our every day mission."
The TF-Resolute Team coordinated and delivered gift boxes supporting 3,846 Soldiers, over 2,000 more than the previous year. Every Soldier who received a gift from the USO left smiling and was invited to sign the USO Christmas Convoy commemorative flag.
"This was a very well organized mission and the Soldiers here are really enjoying these gifts," said Command Sgt. Maj. Tony Escalona, the TF-Resolute command sergeant major. "I think these Soldiers are going to enjoy a great holiday season because of these donations."