FORWARD OPERATING BASE MASUM GHAR, Afghanistan - Despite being away from friends and families during the holiday season, Soldiers of Combined Task Force 4-2 found many ways to celebrate Christmas in Southern Afghanistan, Dec. 25.
From paper Douglas fir trees with pictures and messages from families back home to Christmas lights strung about the bases, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division Soldiers decorated their rooms, dining facilities, and even their Strykers.
For cooks like Spc. Samuel Bell, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 702nd Brigade Support Battalion, his Christmas preparations started immediately after Christmas Eve dinner.
"It's been hectic, but we actually enjoy the pressure," said Bell, whose team out at Combat Outpost Edgerton prepared a 60-pound round of beef as a main entrée for service members on the COP.
Every three to four hours the cooks came in to check the meat or put something else in the oven, he explained.
The food service specialists like doing whatever they can to make the soldiers feel better, he said.
"Most of these things can be described as comfort foods, or they're things that (the soldiers have) grown up with, so they bring back feelings of nostalgia," Bell said. "(They are) things that make them feel like they're at home ... and hopefully take them away out of current circumstances for a few minutes."
To bring himself closer to home, Bell said he would video chat back home and watch his four kids unwrap their presents.
Meanwhile on Patrol Base Luke, Pfc. Benjamin Harmon, an infantryman with Company A, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, spent the majority of his Christmas day on tower guard, ensuring the men on his base were safe.
When his guard shift ended, Harmon said he wanted three simple things: Christmas dinner, to talk to his family and sleep.
"It's real different," he said. "You don't get the whole family dinner where the family gets together and stuff like that."
One thing that made being so far away from home during the holidays better for him, was the company he has on the base.
"You have your whole platoon which is basically all your best friends," he explained. "You don't do much, you just work and sleep, but you've got your best friends to the right and left of you the whole time during the holidays, so that makes it pretty easy."
As the holiday season comes to a close, soldiers of the brigade continue to work hard in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and wait to be reunited with the families and friends they left behind during deployment.