BAGRAM, Afghanistan (Dec. 19, 2012) -- For many servicemembers deployed to Afghanistan, Christmas can be a very emotional and depressing time of year when separated from their friends and family back home. However, this year, Santa came to town and brought joy with him as he gave Christmas stockings to staff members and patients at the Craig Joint Theater Hospital at Bagram Airfield, Dec. 18.

Santa wandered the halls passing out stockings filled with fun to every staff member and patient he passed. For those not on shift yet, he left some behind. For the wounded warriors lying in hospital beds, Santa was a sight for sore eyes.

U.S. Army Spc. Joseph Beldon, an infantryman with Delta Co., 3-187 Infantry Regiment, "Iron Rakkasans," and a native of Danville, Ky., was excited to see Santa.

"It means a lot to get a stocking this close to Christmas," said Beldon. "I've been sitting here in the hospital for five days by myself, and seeing Santa here really cheers you up."

Santa's workshop was assisted this year by the Blue Star Mothers of Henderson and Boulder City, Nev., when they sent more than 300 hand-made stockings filled with items to CJTH.

Once the hospital received the stockings, staff members reached out to Santa, who agreed to come early this year and spread some Christmas cheer.

"It's awesome to be able to give these stockings out," said Santa. "I know everyone here is missing their friends and families back home, so when I give them a stocking, I can see it really lifts their spirits."

U.S. Air Force Chap. (Capt.) Peter Drury, the hospital chaplain, feels this is the best medicine both the staff and patients can receive this time of year.

"It's great. It shows that both Santa and the people back home are thinking about us," said Drury.

Santa wanted everyone to know that though he arrived early in Afghanistan, his regular deliveries will be on time.
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