Patriotic Article
Military
By Army SSgt. Ricardo Branch

 

Christmas Trees Bring Touch Of Holiday Spirit To Deployed Troops
(December 22, 2010)

Forward Operating Base Warhorse, Iraq (12/18/2010) – A fresh, aromatic pine tree stands tall, its pine needles draped with garlands and Christmas ornaments, greeting soldiers entering the 225th Brigade Support Battalion Headquarters building at Forward Operating Base Warhorse, Iraq with holiday festivity and cheer.
 A real Christmas tree, complete with holiday decorations, brought holiday cheer to soldiers of 225th BSB, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, deployed to the Diyala province of northern Iraq.

“The Christmas tree is a nice morale booster for soldiers,” said Staff Sgt. Carlo Principio, a generator mechanic assigned to Company B, 225th BSB, 2nd AAB, 25th Inf. Div.

“It's just amazing to see a real Christmas tree out here,” said Principio, a 24 year-old native of Jacksonville, Fla., serving his fourth deployment to Iraq, the third such during the holiday season. “It's one of the last things you expect to see over in the desert; the pine smell of it alone reminds me of home.”
Spc. Peter Hinz, motor transport operator, Company A, 225th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, fixes a snowflake on top of the battalion Christmas tree in the headquarters building at Forward Operating Base Warhorse, Iraq, Dec. 15, 2010.
Spc. Peter Hinz, motor transport operator, Company A, 225th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, fixes a snowflake on top of the battalion Christmas tree in the headquarters building at Forward Operating Base Warhorse, Iraq, Dec. 15, 2010.
The battalion Family Readiness Groups mailed the fresh pine tree, 6,235 miles from a tree nursery in Michigan to the soldiers at FOB Warhorse deployed to U.S. Division-North in northern Iraq.

Tracey Murray, Family Readiness Group advisor and spouse to the deployed battalion commander, helped organize the effort to send Christmas trees to the troops of the brigade support battalion.

“One of our FRG leaders, Sherri De Silva, was here during the last deployment and remembered how they sent live Christmas trees to the troops downrange,” said Tracey, who works with the brigade's FRG leaders in Hawaii. “We decided to do it again to bring a bit of Christmas cheer to our soldiers.”

To carry on the holiday tradition, the 225th BSB FRG's contacted a tree nursery in McMillan, Mich., to begin the process of bringing the Christmas spirit to the troops.

The journey to bring the tree, and ten of its brothers to the desert was no simple feat, Tracey said, due to the fact the current deployment scattered the battalion across two provinces in Iraq, an area roughly the size of Pennsylvania.

“The coordination was a little trickier for this deployment,” she explained. “The brigade is responsible for a much larger area, and the BSB soldiers are literally everywhere.

“After we coordinated with Rear Detachment and our deployed soldiers, each of our FRG companies in Hawaii ‘adopted' a FOB and sent a tree to the battalion point of contact there, regardless if it was ‘their' soldier,” Tracey said.

Each company FRG leader also sent individual boxes of lights and decorations to their deployed company commanders and adopted bases, providing the trees Christmas flair for the holidays.

“While it is hard for our families to be without their soldier during the holidays, we know it must be even harder for the soldiers downrange,” Tracey said. “We hope this brings a little bit of Christmas cheer to every one of our soldiers.”

Lt. Col. Scott Murray, battalion commander, 225th BSB, 2nd AAB, 25th Inf. Div., received the trees arriving at FOB Warhorse.

Murray, whose wife heads the battalion FRG, said he is touched to see the amazing effort of the families and friends of the battalion taking care of the soldiers during the holidays.

“It's my view every soldier who is away from home always thinks about home,” Murray said. “Anything you can do that would remind them of that and what it feels like during Christmas is important because it lets them know people back home are thinking about them.”

Murray said seeing holiday decorations arriving from home is also a great morale booster for the troops, because it changes the mood and atmosphere around the workplace.

“A few days ago, I noticed one of my company commanders carrying a large duffel bag,” he said. “The flap was open and you could just make out the Christmas tree decorations inside. He was going to the flight line here on Warhorse and flying out to visit multiple remote sites. It's great to see the soldiers' spirits lifted in such a way by our families back home.”

Although far from home, soldiers of the 225th BSB received care and love from friends and family, little reminders provided by the unit's FRGs. These little reminders served to bring a taste of home to the deployed soldiers during the holiday season.
Article and photo by Army SSgt. Ricardo Branch
2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division
Copyright 2010

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